Recognising that some families were being disadvantaged because of a lack of access to on-line learning, in October 2020 Totnes Rotarians began collecting donated laptops and computer peripherals for refurbishment and distribution to schools in the local area.
The project took on a new urgency in January 2021 at the start of the third national Covid 19 lockdown. It became clear that there was a serious problem with local children at risk of being left behind in learning.
There was a huge public response to local TV, radio and press coverage and the scheme had offers of over 125 devices. These were collected by Rotary volunteers and Richard Bravo a Totnes based computer specialist began the mammoth task of preparing the machines for re-use. Each one had the hard drive securely removed and replaced with a new solid-state unit. Batteries and other components were replaced where necessary and the computer was thoroughly cleaned before being passed to local schools for distribution.
A total of 65 families were provided with refurbished devices and there is a stock of about 20 suitable machines ready to be reused if necessary. The remaining donated items were found to be unsuitable for economic refurbishment and have been safely destroyed although suitable parts have been retained for future repairs.
The total cost of the project so far is almost £5,000 The cost has been met by very generous public donations and financial support provided by Devon and Cornwall Rotary, Devon County Council through a Covid recovery grant, and by locality grant funding from by Devon County Councillor Hodgeson and South Hams Councillors Birch, Pannell, Rose, Smerdon and Sweett.
As COVID restrictions reduce, allowing the return to some sort of normality, there will be a continued demand for the availability of technology. This will be necessary to provide the means for both young people and adults to have access to equipment which will enable them to address some of the many challenges that will still be faced.
This might be for, further education, work requirements, personal development of life skills job applications or just being able to have the use of computer to facilitate day to day requirements. Totnes Rotary, working with Richard Bravo’s not-for-profit company, ‘Computers for people’ will continue to assist those who may face similar problems in future.
Whilst we have ceased to collect donations from the public at this time if any company, school, and University is in the process of upgrading its technology please get in touch and we may be able to place the redundant equipment to enable others to benefit.