Digital access in London. Where are we now?

Cross-posting from our latest blog post at Digital access in London. Where are we now? - The Restart Project.
We are looking back at our work with Digital Access Organisations in London:

Earlier this year, when schools closed again and we went into lockdown, communities and volunteers across the country stepped up to help their neighbours without computers. In London alone, we got to know thirteen organisations who collect donated laptops and supply them to those in need.

These groups worked tirelessly to help as many people as possible, spending their weekends working on this, with some turning their homes into refurbishment workshops. Together, they supplied thousands of devices to students, families, isolated people and others who needed access.

But some devices that these organisations received needed some more attention.

Our Laptop Repair Team

Fortunately, fixing up laptops and computers is right up our alley! So we partnered up with three donation schemes: Catbytes, Mer-IT and Ready Tech Go, and we brought together some fixer volunteers.

Our Laptop Repair Team received the damaged laptops right to their homes – delivered by pedal-powered couriers. Some work and some spare parts later, most of these laptops were ready for a new life, helping a new person or family.

Once it was safe to do so, the Laptop Repair Team visited Catbytes in Lewisham, South London. We helped clearing out their backlog of devices, fixing many laptops on the day and sourcing spare parts for the remaining ones.

Through this, we worked on 58 devices and fixed 43 of these. The main barrier to repair? Spare parts too expensive. And some devices were simply too old to meet the needs of any future user. But most repairs were quite straight forward.

Thank you to the volunteers involved. Thank you for sharing your time and skills, for helping us hit the ground running with this work, and for being pro-active in finding solutions. You’ve made a real difference in many people’s lives.
@Alex_Horn @benski @Bilal @Dave @Faraz_Sayed @Ferdy_Salamanca @Fernando_GA @James_Diamond @Jamie_Hillier @Monique @sandra @Steve_Cook

Your financial support will go even further

None of this would have been possible without the kind donations we received. Thank you to the 58 people who contributed to our crowdfunder in January, and to eSpares for matching their donations. The donations helped us buy spare parts like keyboards and batteries, and pay for the deliveries.

All remaining funds were donated to Mer-IT, Catbytes and Ready Tech Go. We estimate they can refurbish and repair 120 more laptops with this support.

This work not only represents real value for money, it reminds donors of the value in the computers in their cupboards, and links local people, saving precious resources from waste.

Thank you to these three stellar organisations. Your work inspires us!

The future

The need has not disappeared. In fact, with families being forced to self-isolate, it’s coming back again. And there are groups that have consistently been excluded who still need support, like refugees, victims of domestic abuse or human trafficking.

So please continue to support groups like Catbytes, Mer-IT and Ready Tech Go working on refurbishing and donating equipment to people in need.

We are looking at ways to deepen and continue these vital partnerships with grassroots reuse groups as we plan into the future.

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