Milford on Sea based charity, 'Olivia Inspires' has stepped in to help disadvantaged students in the district’s schools during the coronavirus lockdown. The lockdown and the resulting school closures have had a disproportionate impact on the learning of disadvantaged pupils and have resulted in an increase in the already wide attainment gap between the richest and poorest pupils. Olivia Inspires is working with the schools to help redress the balance.
The charity has made a total of £15,750 available, £1,500 to each of the nine secondary schools in the New Forest district and £750 to each of the three non-mainstream schools (education centres and special schools).
Nigel Burt, Olivia’s father and a founder of the charity explained: “We know that lockdown has been very hard on all students, but particularly those who are most disadvantaged. We have offered the schools this funding to use in the way that they think will best help individual students.”
Many of the schools have used Olivia Inspires’ funds to provide laptops for pupils as so much learning has moved online during lockdown. The government has only provided laptops for disadvantaged students in Year 10, together with care leavers and those with social workers, so this means the majority of disadvantaged students have received no government help.
New Forest Academy in Holbury has opted to use the funds to provide one-to-one specialist maths tuition for Year 10 students. Whilst four students from Greenwood School in Hythe will be benefiting from Equine Assisted Learning thanks to the Olivia Inspires funding.
Priestlands headteacher Peter Main said: “We are delighted that Olivia Inspires has agreed to support our students with laptops. This will not only make a huge difference to them in enabling them to access the work and tutorials being set online through lockdown but longer term it will also provide them with a resource to really enhance their home learning and independence.”
Ringwood School’s assistant headteacher, Heather Jolly echoed these thoughts saying: “Thanks to Olivia Inspires’ generous donation, we have been able to buy seven laptops. These have gone to students who have worked exceptionally hard throughout these difficult last few months, despite having limited or no access to technology at home. This donation will mean they are able to access work from home, catch up on anything they have missed over the last few months, and continue to work hard towards their GCSEs and bright futures beyond. Thank you Olivia Inspires, you really are making such a difference in our local community.”
Nigel concluded: “We are delighted that through Olivia Inspires we have been able to help these young people at such a difficult time and wish them success in the future.
“It’s great to be able to help young people in this way because the applications for support from young people have dried up during lockdown. Like many charities the last few months have been difficult for us. There were a number of fundraising events planned and these have either been postponed or cancelled, so if anyone would like to do any fundraising for us that would be amazing. Now that things are starting to return to normal we would like to get the message out that we are here to support any young person who needs a helping hand in achieving their dreams and I would encourage them to apply.”
To find out more, make an application for support or donate to the charity please visit: www.oliviainspires.org.uk.
You can follow Olivia Inspires on Facebook @oliviainspires or Twitter @olivia_inspires.
Olivia Burt from Milford on Sea, was a gifted and beautiful young woman who inspired others. Olivia was only 20 years old when she died in February 2018 in a horrendous incident at Durham, where she was a first-year university student studying natural sciences.
She was just embarking on a journey that would have doubtless seen her leaving a lasting mark on our world. But more than this, everyone who knew Olivia remembers her smile and her kindness, and how she inspired others.
Olivia Inspires aims to allow her spirit to live on by helping young people aged 11 to 18 years, whose families live in the New Forest District Council area and who are facing financial hardship. Grants will be provided to help them develop their potential in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the arts and sport.
The charity, set up by Olivia’s parents Nigel and Paula, was launched on Thursday 3rd October 2019 at Lymington Town Sailing Club, where Olivia, who sailed for Great Britain, was a member.