22nd November 2021
In March 2021, a Somerset County Councillor, Sarah Dyke, approached IT reuse specialist, Simon Barfoot, for help repurposing some laptops Sarah’s constituents had gathered together for some families in their area in need of home learning devices. Within a few weeks word spread and Simon formed Donate IT, a not-for-profit company, to handle the increasing flow of donated equipment.
Simon describes the model: “It is quite simple …we receive donated IT devices from Somerset residents and small businesses. Once we have put everything through an industry standard data wiping process, we repurpose the kit for people in our communities who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, be that school children, vulnerable, isolated or poorly people. I was surprised to discover just how many people living in our community are struggling with digital access and unable to function in the digital age. The IT equipment we receive was just sitting around and is making such a huge difference to people so we are determined to get the message out to ask people to donate their old tech. Also if anything cannot be redistributed we are linked into the UK recycling industry so all the precious metals and rare earth minerals are recovered for the circular economy. Nothing goes to waste, nothing goes to landfill.”
Donate IT has just given the 100th device out. That’s 100 people in Somerset who were having difficulty doing their homework, or accessing local services, or keeping in touch with family and friends and so many other needs and challenges – all driven by the forgotten, unwanted old tech in drawers, cupboards and attics
Also Donate IT is having a positive environmental impact. Not only is reuse the best form of recycling and the non-reuse items are being fed back into the circular economy but also for every device donated Simon is planting a tree. Last weekend he gathered a team of volunteers and planted small saplings supplied by the Woodland Trust into land in Somerset. Species like silver birch, rowan, English oak, maple, various willows, hazel, holly and hawthorn to name a few.
The project is now expanding into North Somerset for the benefit of North Somerset residents. So please go and dig out those old devices collecting dust and let’s get our local community online, our recycling industry recovering precious metals and lock away carbon in new trees.
Donations can be made at Clevedon Library BS21 6NN and Weston Library BS23 1UJ.
To claim a donated laptop via North Somerset Council’s project, Opportunity North Somerset, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about alternative help you can receive via Opportunity North Somerset, please visit Support for residents | In North Somerset.