Blackburn pupils offered free home internet for schoolwork

Blackburn pupils who can’t get online at home are being offered free broadband and computer equipment thanks to a scheme run by 6G Internet.

As part of a trial with Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Lancashire-based 6G Internet is connecting families to free basic home broadband, with refurbished laptops provided by Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

The free internet permits 1 GB of data per day and allows unlimited usage between 4-8pm on weekdays and 9am-9pm on weekends to help children do their homework.

Abdul Rehman, 4, and Imtisal Rehman, 5, both attend Sacred Heart and are some of the first children to benefit from the scheme. Their mother, Rabia Naveed, said that she and her husband had never previously been online at home.

She said: “We don’t have much experience with the internet but we both realised that it was important for the children – this is the first time we’ve had access to a computer in six years.

“Education-wise it’s much more fun for Abdul and Imtisal and it’s easier to keep them interested. We’ve downloaded some maths and English games which help the children memorise things much faster.”

According to the ONS, 700,000 children cannot access the internet via laptop or tablet at home in the UK, 68% of whom have said they struggle to do homework as a result. In addition, a further 60,000 having no home internet access at all.

6G is currently expanding across the North West and will serve around 4 million households within the next few years, with the free internet provided as part of 6G’s commitment to donating 20% of its network to achieve positive social change.

Ian Clough, digital social inclusion lead for 6G Internet, said: “Having no internet access at home  doesn’t just mean children struggle to do homework, it makes it more difficult for families to access government services like Universal Credit, find jobs, manage money, book appointments or find the best deals on everyday essentials. Things that many of us take for granted.

“In Blackburn we were fortunate enough to receive some recycled computers from Blackburn Rovers Community Trust which meant that not only were families connected to the internet, they also had the means to get the most out of the connection. I’m hoping that we can replicate that kind of partnership throughout Lancashire.

“We are really pleased with the outcome of our trial with Sacred Heart and we are now offering to help schools across Blackburn, Preston, Blackpool and Bolton.

“I believe that we can help Lancashire become the first area of the UK where no school aged children are missing out on being able to access the internet at home because of cost or long term contracts.”

Schools or charities can register their interest in the scheme at www.6gdsi.co.uk/contact