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February – March 2021 | People of Action

Recycled laptops help isolated students

Recycled laptops help isolated students

A project in Wales is helping to provide laptops to children with limited or no access to online tools during lockdown.

The amount of electronic waste produced each year in Great Britain and Ireland continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Annually in the UK, two million tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment is dumped, causing considerable environmental damage through ground, water and air pollution.

Now businesses are being encouraged to take part in computer and laptop recycling schemes to promote sustainability and protect the environment.

In South Wales, Newport Uskmouth Rotary was looking for a project which they could deliver during Covid, so they struck on their Laptops 4 Home Learning project.

“Covid-19 has affected us all and highlighted many problems, none more than the digital divide which exists in our schools,” explained Club President and project leader, Anne Jackson-Bass.

“Too many young people have struggled to access online learning during lockdowns and self-isolation as they do not have the necessary IT equipment.”

“Covid-19 has affected us all and highlighted many problems, none more than the digital divide which exists in our schools.”

Through the club’s youth programme, Newport Uskmouth Rotary approached three schools to discover 700 students living in the most deprived areas of the city lacked IT equipment.

So the club launched a project to recycle redundant laptops, and working with IT business, Microsmith, who did all the work for free, they are refurbishing the equipment into Chromebooks.

Newport Uskmouth Rotary has bought the occasional battery and charger lead at a cost of £15 for each refurbishment, before the Chromebooks were delivered to the schools.

The 50th laptop is delivered to help children with lockdown learning.

Thanks to a blaze of publicity across Newport, and working closely with the three High Schools, the Rotary club received an amazing response for unwanted laptops, and by Christmas 50 Chromebooks had been delivered.

“The response from the public and local businesses has been amazing and all three schools are supporting the project by sharing information on all their social media sites,” said Anne.

“The club has been meeting on Zoom every fortnight and the project has been supported by all members: organising collections, ordering parts, ensuring security is maintained, collecting and delivering laptops – all this through lockdowns, firebreaks and self-isolation!

“Funding the project was a big concern as, like everyone else, our fundraising activities were on hold.

Too many young people have struggled to access online learning during lockdowns and self-isolation.”

“We applied for grants and support from local businesses and received £2,266.66 from Comic Relief, £2,000 from Newport City Homes and have applied for a District Matching Grant. Our Christmas Zoom meeting also raised some funds and we are hopeful of further support as the project grows.

“Newport Uskmouth Rotary has restricted our collection area to the Newport postcode area and we have already received over 100 donations.

“We know we would struggle to collect from further afield so have tried to share our project with others. We have presented the idea to Rotary clubs in Cardiff, Swansea and Bolton all of whom are looking to replicate the project.

For more details contact: enquiries@laptops4homelearning.club

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