I would love to hear from others who have started a repair service . Ideas and Hints would be greatly appreciated. Equipment? Funding? Marketing? You name it - our ears are wide open. 4 The Benefit of All www.4thebenefitofall.org
Hi Ricky -
Welcome to the Restarters community!
I’ve been working with a team in Computer Friendly St Albans to refurbish laptops for underprivileged kids. In normal times, CF has avoided any involvement with hardware, concentrating on low cost computer courses aimed at boosting digital inclusion, espectially amongst older people. I’m not sure quite how the present initiative got started but it’s really taken off. So far we’ve received around 450 devices and donated around 110, with many more requests outstanding. We find the scrappage rate is around 10%.
We have a team of around a dozen. Each device is registered in a spreadsheet, which is also used to track its progress from receipt through to donation. All devices are functionally tested, upgraded to 4G RAM (if not already) and a new SSD installed. Where the device has a Windows 7 (or better) licence and has the capability we install a fresh copy of Win 10, otherwise we install CloudReady, turning it into a Chromebook. All mains adapters are PAT tested. All hard drives taken from devices are currently in locked storage awaiting a mobile destruction unit which will be visiting in the coming weeks on a pro bono basis to turn them into iron filings. Amongst our team most of us can do most things but some specialise in upgrades, or software install, or simple or more challenging hardware fixing, or iPads, or Android tablets or collecting and delivering donations or simply ferrying items amongst us. I do the PAT testing and look at a few of the more challenging hardware problems.
We have solicited donation of devices through golf clubs, W3A, Rotary, Lions Rugby FC, churches, any other organisations any of us are connected with, and friends and neighbours. We have received significant funding through local councillors and individual donations. We have approached pretty much all local schools in St Albans and Harpenden and are beginning to reach out further across Hertfordshire. Primary schools are often happy with lower spec devices for Google Classroom running on CloudReady. Some secondary schools also use Google Classroom but others use Microsoft Teams and need Win10. We also provided two laptops to the Herts Police Domestic Violence unit for donation to vulnerable adults, particularly at risk during lockdown. So far we haven’t had much call for tablets and may have to look a little wider to find the best placement for these.
With schools going back in a couple of weeks we’ve asked ourselves how long the need will persist. Impossible to tell, but our guess is that with many kids well behind in the curriculam, anything that can help them with homework will be very valuable. Feedback from schools so far has been that they can’t thank us enough.
I hope that’s given you some idea of what’s possible and how you might do something locally yourself.
Bet regards - Philip
Really helpful, Thanks
Might we chat about the courses?
We have courses and might be able to reciprocate.
Hi Ricky -
You can see the courses we run (in normal times) at http://www.computerfriendlystalbans.org.uk/courses.html
There’s a graphic in the RH column giving a roadmap of our courses which summarises them well. You can browse the rest of the site to get a broader picture. Take-up on the Windows courses seems to have tailed off somewhat in the last 2 - 3 years, our target audience going more for tablets.
If you think there might be some way we could reciprocate let me know what you could offer and what you could use from us, and if it looks promising I’ll put you in touch with our chairman.
Best regards - Philip
Sounds like an interesting project! Are you focusing on laptops for people in need? Or is it a broader offering? If setting up a premises and a permanent “service”, we encourage community groups to link with the existing repair economy, and be sure not to be seen to undermine existing businesses.
@Lorna_Montgomery helped set up Repair and Share in Bath, which offers a repair service. She might have some top tips too.
If you are interested in periodic repair events, our Toolkit might be helpful. But Repair Cafe has their own.
If you do pursue a repair service, we’d love for you to co-sign our Manchester Declaration
One last thing you might be interested in - John McNally, Falkirk MP on the Environmental Audit Committee, was supportive of pro-repair policies during their inquiry on electronic waste. He could be an ally for you.
Best of luck
Greatly appreciate your follow up and I will get back to you - I haven’t forgotten and THANKS for the tip on our MP!!!
Thanks for the information. We are looking to set up a centre in Grangemouth. We have premises. The population within 20 minutes drive is over 300,000. Our aim will be to repair, clean and reissue devices. Our main interest will be for those in the 16-24 Age group and those who (other than merely due to Lockdown) are homebound.
Is there a way in which I can have a telephone or Google Meet chat with yourself, James or others on how best to go about this. We are keen to work to ethical and industry standards so the Manchester Declaration is one we would be happy to sign up to.
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