Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

Recycling laptops for the community

by Susan van de Ven on 9 January, 2021

Since the new lockdown started, a number of queries have been coming in about the Screenbank project run by Meldreth Coronavirus Community Support. Here are some basics which we hope might help another community locate and redeploy available machines to their local school.

Recycling laptops for the community

During the first months of the pandemic the Meldreth Coronavirus Community Support group ran a ‘Screenbank’ scheme to supply computers to secondary school students at Melbourn and Bassingbourn Village Colleges, to help ensure that all students would be equipped with home IT in case of lockdowns. 

The need was considerable, with about one in six students requiring a computer or laptop. 

A team of local volunteer IT engineers, technicians and electricians worked to refurbish equipment donated by the local community.  In some cases, new machines were created out of old components, requiring some minor expenditure made possible by local Covid-response grant funding.  In other cases, donated computers arrived in good working order and only required wiping of data and updating the operating system, at no cost.

We found that:

  • Laptops are more useful than desktops due to space constraints at home
  • Broadband access was generally already present in households needing laptops, for TV purposes
  • There is a significant supply of good, unwanted laptops in the community
  • There are people in the community with the basic expertise required to wipe and update laptops already in good working order
  • Coronavirus community support groups are in an ideal position to coordinate appeals for donated laptops and volunteer technicians; and to liaise with local schools to see that donated laptops reach those children in need.

Once through the Screenbank team, laptops and computers have been provided to schools to disperse to students at their discretion, with a disclaimer that all liability rests with the school.

Any community wishing to undertake a similar exercise would be welcome to chat with our team to share points of learning.

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