20 July 2020
Europe/London timezone

Level Up appeal - laptops and Internet access to disadvantaged children during the pandemic

20 Jul 2020, 15:35
Standard Presentation Main Session


Mr Martin Saunders


I'll create some simple high level slides but this is the main content of the presentation:

Background and problem:

It’s become very apparent that the ‘new normal’ for school children now and in the future includes a considerable amount of learning at home using online resources. Unfortunately, some families can’t afford IT equipment to support their children studying at home, and right now these disadvantaged children are missing out. The government has made funds available to provide laptops and Internet access to some of these children, but that currently only includes children in social care which is a tiny fraction of the kids that need help.

After liaising with schools in my home town of Horley (population around 22,000), I believe there are around 100 children with an urgent need for IT equipment to help them with their school work.

What I've done:

To help address this problem, I’ve set up a laptop appeal to encourage individuals and businesses to donate unwanted laptops. I take the laptop in, clean it, generally replace the hard drive, occasionally install more memory (RAM), install Windows 10 or CloudReady ChromeOS and power test it. I then give the laptop to one of the Horley schools for onward distribution to the families that need it most. Using old laptops rather than buying new ones takes more work, but we're reusing existing equipment which is significantly cheaper than buying new laptops and is better for the environment.

Internet access:

For families that need it, I'm also providing Internet access using mobile SIMs and 4G dongles.

Data security concerns:

Rightfully some doners have concerns over the security of their data, especially if the laptop was used for business purposes. To solve this problem I'm happy to take laptops that have had their hard drive removed, or I'm happy to remove the drive for the owner. Older laptops typically have slower hard disks, so replacing the disk with a modern solid-state drive (SSD) is cheap, quick to install and significantly speeds up the laptop for the new owner.

Onward ownership of the device:

Each laptop includes a letter from me explaining the laptop is now theirs to do with as they wish. I don't expect the device back, but I do ask that if the laptop isn't required anymore and still functions well to please return to me or the school as it may benefit another child.

Call to action:

I need help please in a few different areas:

  • Scale - I can't afford the time to do this outside of Horley, could you (the audience) start Level Up in your town?
  • Internet access - SIMs and dongles are expensive, could your service provider help in providing these? Or are there any other ideas on how to offer cheap, short term internet access (like BT WiFi for example)?
  • Laptops - I (and if we get this to scale, many others) need access to unwanted laptops - does your business have any they could spare please?
Talk Duration 15 Minutes
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Primary author

Mr Martin Saunders

Presentation Materials