The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the country’s digital divide like never before. The government has been aiming to get nearly a million laptop computers distributed to schools across the country. Some of those found their way to our local schools and families here in Worksop. But there are many families that have also struggled.
Charities and companies have stepped in to try to plug the gap in ICT resources, setting up schemes to accept donations of old laptops, tablets and phones which can be refurbished then supplied to schools for pupils. Worksop’s own From the Heart Charity (FTHC) has led the charge within our own community. At FTHC, they have had numerous families needing support with devices for home learning. Some families have needed more than one device due to the number of children and young people in their household and they’ve been happy to facilitate this, creating a positive impact on children and young people’s home learning throughout these testing times.
It’s not only organised charities that have been trying to help out. Individuals and small community groups have sprung into action across the country looking to ‘tech-cycle’ old devices for local schools. Karl and Andrew are two such people. As former Valley School boys they shared an interest in building, breaking and learning about computers. Now they are freely volunteering their time and taking apart computers once again in support of their local communities, collecting and refurbishing old and broken PCs, laptops and tablets.
Resale, reuse, recycle
They highlight a donation of Tesco Hudl tablets from Worksop’s Gateford community as a perfect example of what tech-cycling in about. These devices first hit the market in 2013 with around half a million sold. By present tech standard these devices are old and obsolete, but there’s still usable life even in devices as old as the Hudl. Tech-cycling seeks to extend and squeeze additional life out old technology.
Most schools are asking for devices that can simply run an internet browser and be able to let pupils keep in contact with their teachers via applications such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Even an old Hudl can be put to good use at a time when many are struggling.
The social benefits of tech-cycling clearly standout during the pandemic, however there also environment benefits. Old tech may be viewed as redundant by their owners and commercially obsolete but they are still complex objects that have required energy and resources to manufacture. Tech-cycling focuses on reuse opportunities prior to physical recycling. This is especially applicable to Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) manufactured after January 2009, which the Environmental Agency notes is less likely to contain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and is an ideal candidate for potential reuse.
A future for tech-cycling
An easing of COVID-19 restrictions may now be in sight but that shouldn’t mean the end for flourishing community initiatives such as these. There is still a need to get devices to families that have struggled during the repeated lockdowns.
If you have old, broken or obsolete devices laying around the house, garage and shed, or you are a business with devices to donate, give tech-cycling a thought! Contact Andrew and Karl on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact From the Heart Charity at email@example.com. They also have a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/worksop.techcycle.