United Kingdom

Magnificent readers sent £1m in cheques as £10.8m Mail Force campaign helps children keep learning

Almost £1million in cheques from generous readers has now been banked by the Mail Force charity – with every penny helping get schoolchildren online.

An incredible 15,800 cheques have been received, many of which come with heartwarming letters of support for the campaign which aims to bridge the 'digital divide'.

Hundreds of thousands of pupils have fallen behind because they did not have access to a laptop or tablet during lockdown. 

The Mail's Computers for Kids campaign is handing over tens of thousands of laptops and 150,000 free Vodafone data cards to help disadvantaged youngsters catch up, which could take them months.

Almost £1million in cheques from generous readers has now been banked by the Mail Force charity. The envelopes enclosing cheques are raising money for Bone Cancer Research Trust to conduct life-saving research. Pictured: Bone Cancer research trust volunteer Terri Bush (left) with the Mail's Claire Duffin with sackfuls of donation envelopes from readers

Among those sending money to the cause was retired GP Peta Croucher, 59, (pictured) who wrote a cheque for £250

As well as £950,000 in cheques, our readers have sent in £880,000 in donations online and via phone and text messages. Along with philanthropists and companies, the total raised is now £10.8million.

Among those sending money to the cause was retired GP Peta Croucher, 59, who wrote a cheque for £250. 

With a father who qualified as a solicitor in his late fifties and a mother who earned a degree in her seventies after coming from a modest background, the importance of education was passed on to Dr Croucher. 

She said: 'It breaks my heart what's happening. There's a generation of kids who, if we're not careful, won't achieve their potential. I want this to inspire someone else having a tough time, to know that they can still do it.'

Dr Peta Croucher's father David Croucher (pictured) qua

Dr Croucher's father, David, won a scholarship at Ealing Grammar School before going to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained a law degree. 

But with a wife and young family, he needed a steady income and took an administrative job. A job then came up at a building society in Zambia and he planned to continue studying to qualify as a lawyer while there.

But he discovered he could not take the exams abroad and ended up working as a planning officer for a local authority near Bristol when the family returned to the UK. 

But he never lost his desire to complete his education and spent the next 14 years sitting his law exams in his own time until he passed them in his late 50s.

His wife Elizabeth trained as a nurse and worked at hospitals, as well as providing support for Aids victims through her work with a charitable trust. 

In her 70s, she still had a thirst for knowledge so she completed an Open University degree in history of art.

Mr Croucher died from Covid in April last year aged 86. His wife, now 86 and suffering with severe dementia, lives in a care home in Bottisham, Cambridgeshire. 

Dr Croucher, who lives nearby in Swaffham Prior, said: 'If daddy was here, he would say the most important thing in life is education and not to give up. Mum would say the same – and they've proved it.'

HOW TO DONATE TO COMPUTERS FOR KIDS 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE 

TO YOU, THE READER: How to send us donations 

The Daily Mail has launched a brand new campaign, Computers For Kids, to raise money for Mail Force – a charity which aims to provide much needed school equipment and resources for pupils across the UK learning from home.

With schools closed, we are left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home.

As part of this campaign, companies are donating their old laptops which, for around £15, can be wiped, professionally refurbished and made safe and fit for home schooling. They can then be delivered to a child or young person who needs one.

In addition, the campaign is looking to support children's needs in other ways such as funding brand new laptops and tablets, and assisting with data access and connectivity for online learning. Any surplus funds will be used to support of the work of UK schools via other means.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE

Visit mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate and follow the steps to complete your donation. 

Please don't send us your old device.

TO MAKE A DONATION VIA YOUR PHONE

To donate £10 - text KIDS10 to 70115

To donate £20 - text KIDS20 to 70115 

TO COMPANIES: Could you give your old laptops?

Upgrading office computers is something all companies do from time to time – and there has never been a better time to donate old laptops. If you are a company with 50 laptops or more that you could give, please visit www.computacenter.com/daily-mail to check they are suitable and register your donation. We will arrange for collection by our specialist partners Computacenter. Please note: we cannot accept donated laptops from individuals.

COMPANIES SHOULD GO TO: computacenter.com/daily-mail 

TO SCHOOLS: Where to apply for the computers

Schools must apply to the Department for Education, which is managing the demand and prioritising the schools most in need. The Mail Force initiative means more laptops will become available more quickly.

SCHOOLS CAN APPLY HERE: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk  

Your stamps help save lives, too

By Claire Duffin 

Even envelopes enclosing our readers' cheques are not going to waste – they are raising money for life-saving research.

They helped the Bone Cancer Research Trust raise more than £10,000 last year when Mail Force was set up to buy personal protective equipment for frontline health workers.

And now – thanks to the campaign to provide children with computers during lockdown – your stamps are again supporting the charity. 

Its volunteers carefully cut the stamps from the envelopes, which are then sorted into categories and sold in bulk by weight.

Its volunteers carefully cut the stamps from the envelopes, which are then sorted into categories and sold in bulk by weight. Pictured: Volunteer Terri Bush

Its volunteers carefully cut the stamps from the envelopes, which are then sorted into categories and sold in bulk by weight. Pictured: Terri Bush (left) with the Mail's Claire Duffin

The trust receives around £10 a kilogram working with an auction firm that sells to collectors and dealers in the UK and around the world. 

The majority of the stamps are sold to private individuals to fill gaps in their collections, but some are purchased by artists who use them to create collages on canvas.

Volunteer coordinator Terri Bush, who took delivery of 20 bags of envelopes from Mail Force last summer, said: 'I cannot tell you how much this means. Our volunteers have been sat twiddling their thumbs, desperate for something to do. This means the world – thank you.'

Here's how schools can apply for free SIM cards 

Schools can apply for free SIM cards at www.vodafone.co.uk/mailforce. 

Head teachers can request a maximum of 80 for a secondary and 50 for a primary. 

Cards are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis but priority is given to areas with higher numbers of free school meal pupils. 

Schools with lower numbers of such pupils will be capped at 20 to 50 SIMs. 

They are dispatched by courier to schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Head teachers allocate the SIMs to pupils. 

Inserted into a mobile phone, each SIM gives 30GB of free data, enough for approximately nine weeks of online learning. 

Here's how schools can apply for computers 

Schools in England can apply for computers through the Department for Education. Visit https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/start. 

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we welcome applications from education authorities, multi-academy trusts or charities focused on children and young people. 

Visit www.mailforce charity.co.uk/register to apply. 

Schools should encourage their LEA/trust to submit their details.

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