Refugees need access to technology now more than ever. Here's the information you need and how you can help

We are thrilled at the recent decision from the Department for Education to enable schools, colleges and local authorities to apply for laptops and other digital resources, which will enable disadvantaged student groups to keep studying.

We know, however, that many of the young people we are supporting at RSN are likely to experience significant difficulty in applying, due to their age (being 19 or over), or because they are not in receipt of support from the local authority. More than two thirds of the young people we are currently supporting and who have particularly acute needs are not in the care of a local authority. 

Similarly, young people who have been reunited with family members after making the journey to the UK alone, are also at risk of not being prioritised for a laptop or tablet through the current scheme. 

Other young people, who have more recently arrived in the UK and had not yet been able to enrol in education, could be spending vital time at home benefiting from the wealth of new and consolidated online learning resources. Being out of education, they will not be prioritised for this scheme. 

Our young people consistently tell us what a difference education makes to them in building and shaping more hopeful futures. Z (18), for example, told us this: 

I can say like 100% things are better now. Now I believe and I can hope for things. Before, I never had any belief for my education. When (RSN) referred me [for ESOL], I knew - “These people are going to help me”. And now I have dream about university. I know I will go to college, and so why can’t I go to university? I have hopes now. You say, how happy out of 5? I say 10. If there is 10 I would say 10!

No refugee should be left behind in their education, because they do not have the resources or financial support to access online learning. 


I have a laptop I don’t use - can I donate it to a young refugee? 

Our partnership with Social Box, since 2016, has been invaluable in enabling young people like M (21) and Wei (16) to progress in learning. It has the potential to come into its own now in ramping up support to high numbers of young people, but they need laptops to refurbish and distribute. If you have a laptop that you are not currently using, please consider donating it to Social Box. Details on how to do so can be found on their website, here. 


I think I’m eligible to apply for a government-funded laptop. How can I apply? 

Individuals and parents cannot apply directly themselves. Only a school, college or local authority is able to make the application. These organisations have been sent information by the Department for Education on how to order a device. Schools, colleges and local authorities have been encouraged by the UK government to work together to identify the most in need students. If you are unsure as to whether your (child’s) school, college or local authority has made an application, we recommend checking with them or asking an advocate to do so. Click here for more information on government scheme to get technology support for children and schools during coronavirus (COVID-19). 


Can I apply for other sources of funding for a laptop or tablet? 

Yes, there are educational and hardship grants available that can be used for purchasing laptops or tablets. Here are some of the ones that we’ve had success with: 

Applications must be made by a support worker and cannot be made directly by the individual or family themselves.

Various eligibility criteria apply. Check which grant is most suitable before applying.  

Applications can only be made for/by children and young people supported by Barnet local authority. 

  • Lawrence Atwell’s Charity - The Skinners Company: 

Refugee Support Network is a charity registered in England & Wales under charity number 1132509 and company number 06879651 at 1st Floor, The Salvation Army Building, London NW10 4JJ. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website. To learn more, read our privacy policy.
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