Leicester charity donates electronic devices to support children in at-home-learning

By Grace Cushnie.

A local charity has helped provide £6,500 worth of electronic tablets to Leicester school children.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation (LRCF) partnered with the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) to provide the electronic devices to children unable to access online learning.

The LRFC is one of forty-six community foundations, that together make up the UK community foundation. They work as ‘middlemen’ between people who wish to do good and those that need the help. The charity handles the financial and legal responsibilities, both for the people they help and their donors, making each process easier.

Sian Jones, communications lead for LRCF, explained that the money received for the smart tablets “came from a mixture of fundraising and grants.

“SDSA works very closely with lots of schools in the local area to find out where there are pockets of need, and find families who are struggling to access online learning because they might not have devices, or enough devices for the number of children.

“They have given out eighty tablets last week, with another 80 being distributed this week.

“It’s also a sustainable project – the devices belong to the school, so once remote learning has finished and the child no longer needs the device, the school will benefit long term because they will have use of the devices still.

“This is most definitely making a difference. You don’t have to spend much time listening to the news to find that one of the real inequities of the lockdown is that those who need support most aren’t getting it, because they didn’t have access to the equipment they need or even WIFI. Anything that can be done to equalize the playing field so that vulnerable children aren’t impacted even more is fantastic.”

Lisa Saunders, an NHFT nurse who works with several schools, agreed that “doing anything to help the inequality our children are facing, which this pandemic has highlighted, needs to be a treated as a priority.

“Donations like the LRFC’s are essential to begin the fight for equality for working-class families.”

Web developer struggles in COVID-19 pandemic

By Kira Gibson

A web developer has learnt the struggles of being on mandatory lockdown from the government.

Scott Mokler (32) worked as a web developer for Profile Digital Agency in Huntingdon until they announced a temporary closure via their social media channels on March 23rd and let him go the same day via email due to a lack of income from clients.

The company ran off a number of clients bringing in an income and paying their retainers. However, due to the Coronavirus, clients have pulled out and aren’t paying the deposits so unfortunately the company had to make hard cuts as they couldn’t afford to pay a lot of the staff.

Scott is also a parent to five children and is having to deal with the ramifications of having the majority of his children under one roof all of the time.


Scott Mokler (Photo credit Kirstie Mokler)

He said: “The kids are struggling without the routine of not going to school.”

He added that because of the financial problems coming with being laid off, and companies closing due to this country lockdown, he is “trying to keep busy at home but limited to what we can do really.”

Unfortunately, the restriction on what you can do and where you can go has also had a negative impact on Scott’s mental health which has significantly changed his life.

There are pathways to get help for the mental health side of things but they are hard to access at this particular moment.

Despite all of the troubles that Scott faces being at home and dealing with this crisis, he still manages to smile and make his kids feel less stressed and upset whilst everything is going on.

For any help with your mental health in Cambridgeshire the crisis line is 111 and option 2. In Leicestershire, the crisis line number is 0116 305 0004. This line is open office hours and for an out of hours crisis please call 0116 255 1606. The Samaritans are open 24/7 in all areas on 116 123.


Coronavirus impacts on Pokemon group

By Kira Gibson

Many of the local Pokemon group in March, Cambridgeshire have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Almost all of the group have started working from home, if possible, and those who can’t have been trying to cope with the early closure of schools and worrying about keeping their families safe.

Laura Collop-Miller, one of the group admins, said: “I’m very fortunate that I can do my job easily from home with no disruptions.

“If anything, it [the outbreak] has increased my productivity.

“Socially it’s a struggle, I live alone and not seeing people for days at a time is not easy.

“I’m a carer for an elderly friend once or twice a week so my main priority is making sure that when I do go out, I’m much more aware of who’s around and how far away.”

There have been a multitude of different responses to the outbreak in the UK with some being frustrated as they’ve lost their job because of everything closing to try and halt the spread of the disease.

A parent in the group, Chantelle Banks-Tahir, said: “It’s not too bad apart from having to entertain the three kids all day long and the issues around food with supply and demand.”

Overall, the group has placed a ban on raiding (battling and catching rare Pokemon in groups) unless it is in keeping with government guidelines as many of the group use the game as an escape and an outlet for their mental health difficulties.


The Pokemon Group in July 2018 (Photo credit Stuart Mokler)

DMU courses change format

By Kira Gibson

Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the government guidelines now being in place stating that no face to face interaction should happen unless it is extremely necessary (such as food shopping and medical assistance) De Montfort University has changed all lessons to be online based.

The majority of the remaining taught lessons have been scheduled over Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, where students and teachers can use video chat to complete their lessons.

However, for those in the nursing sector, things have been a little harder to get to grips with.

One student, who wished to remain nameless, said “our course has been turned upside down. All we get given is a general statement from the nursing and midwifery council and no information from the uni. I go out into practice in two weeks and I have no information about what is going on.”

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) first year nursing students will be having their practice hours suspended and everything theory related will be completed online. Volunteering hours don’t count towards the course for first years either.

For any other nursing and midwifery students (all years) their course will change to be 80% practice and 20% theory with all lectures being online and no seminars due to the lecturers being registered nurses who have gone back into practice to help with the Coronavirus pandemic.


The email sent to all nursing students from DMU lecturers

To read the statement from the NMC follow the link below:


Journalism exams postponed at DMU

By Kira Gibson

The NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) exams for the single honours journalism course at DMU have been postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic ongoing currently.

Already scheduled a month later due to the UCU strikes that went on in March, all the exams in April have been cancelled and delayed till later in the year with speculation as to whether the same will happen for the May exam dates.

Tutors are keeping students up to date with what exam dates are being arranged via email.