Before the second lockdown, I was thinking about how many of my friends just didn’t have enough devices at home to mean all their children could access online school. Sometimes the only device in a house was needed by a parent, who was now working from home. Sometimes families just could afford the tech needed to access online lessons at all.
The government’s promised roll out of laptops to schools was snail-like, with primary schools pretty much completely forgotten and it became clear to me that the community had to do something to stop children falling behind their peers.
I decided to set up a community initiative. I collected in good, used laptops from people in the community who donated them. People were incredibly generous. I then found four amazing technical partners across the area who would refurbish, wipe and check each donation. I raised money for the refurbishments. Then, I collated a list of people who needed laptops and working with a group of amazing volunteer drivers, we distributed them!
People could refer themselves or a friend for a laptop through our website www.topuptoteach.org but we also had a lot of schools and charities get in touch.
Between January and the beginning of March, we have donated just over 500 laptops to people in need in East Kent.
During some days in February, the requests flooded in and I became very nervous we wouldn’t be able to fulfil our promises of technology to the 100s of families getting in touch. I was also spending most of my day answering emails and getting distribution lists right!
Although the project has slowed down a little bit now with the return to schools, we will continue to collect and refurbish good donated technology; we have worked with local charities across the area to also get items out to older residents and vulnerable groups; we will continue to do this, as the benefits for the recipient of a refurbished laptop are huge.
Thank you to everyone who supported (and continues to support) this community project.