In the days running up to the lockdown, we started moving equipment out of our HQ at East Sussex College. We half suspected a lockdown might be coming, and needed our kit to hand. Among the things we moved were six laptops – they could come in handy!
Our instincts proved right. The lockdown happened, and many people were short of computers. Our directors decided to loan as many of our laptops as we could, and we started working out how to do it.
We wondered about theft or breakage, and whether to lock down some of the functionality. In the end we decided that keeping the scheme simple was best.
Virus software was important. We asked the company we use, ESET, for a free license for a couple of months to keep our loanees safer on line. They were delighted to help!
We posted about laptop loans on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the first six went within a few days. By the middle of May we were able to recover a few more laptops from our HQ and loaned them too. We also loaned a couple of tablets, some monitors and a webcam.
Who we helped
Our laptop loan scheme has helped all sorts of people:
- folks who suddenly become “remote workers”, but without the right kit to make that job bearable
- families without devices to help their children with remote school work
- families undergoing emergency rehousing
- A level students desperate to keep up with their studies to secure a university place
- adult learners trying to keep up with their coursework
The list goes on! We reached as many people as we could. Sadly, the requests kept coming in after we loaned our last laptop.
Going the extra mile
At the monthly TechResort board meeting, laptop loans was one of the main things we discussed. We had a stroke of luck. One of our directors, Nick, had found a stack of old laptops in a cupboard in his office at Zoonou. Within a couple of days we had 13 extra laptops, cleaned of data and ready to loan.
This created an extra opportunity. Did we need to reclaim all of our loaned laptops, or could we give some to people who really needed them?
I emailed the loanees of our older laptops to ask if they wanted to keep them. We suggested making a donation via our Localgiving page if they could afford it. The email replies we received were brilliant! People told us how they were using them and what a difference having the kit had made.
While this has been going on, we’ve been making applications to funders so we can loan more laptops. A few have been successful so we can develop the scheme over the next few months.
Live and learn
We’ll use what we’ve learned so far to tweak the scheme, but we’re happy that our simple approach was a great way to test the waters.
Next we’re going to find out who might have a couple of laptops hanging around that could be useful. We’re going to put the word out wider to ensure that those most in need and, perhaps, furthest from the usual social media channels can contact us.
We know there’s a concern about donating an old laptop with your data still on it. There’s no need to worry, as we’re using widely acclaimed data removal tools. Industry experts Zoonou are on board and fully approve of our methods.
If you know anyone with spare, but probably usable kit, please ask them to get in touch with us.
- Zoonou for donating laptops and helping with data security questions
- ESET for virus software licences
- Everyone who’s donated laptops and spread the word
Together we’ve made a huge difference to our local community!