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TECH4KIDS APPEAL: How laptop recycling can beat the digital divide for young people

The Mayor was guest of honour when he met volunteers at a project which ensures no child in Hammersmith & Fulham is denied access to online learning.

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Cllr PJ Murphy – who is supporting the Tech4Kids appeal – visited the west London workshop which recycles laptops for children and young people and was introduced to helper Mandeep Sahota.

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Image caption: Image 2: Workshop helper Mandeep Sahota

Mandeep began volunteering as he, too, had been a child with very limited access to the internet. His father died when he was nine, and it was only through second-hand hand-me-down laptops and help from neighbours that he was able to get online and do schoolwork.

Today he works as a cloud engineer, having studied computer science at the University of Westminster. “We’re so reliant on the internet today,” he told the Mayor. “I can only imagine the frustration pupils without devices must have felt during the pandemic, when libraries were closed.”

Mandeep told the Mayor that he got enormous satisfaction from refurbishing laptops or tablets, knowing the difference they make. “It’s a really good feeling to see people getting benefits from recycled devices,” he said.

At the weekend’s workshop, nearly 100 devices were checked and prepared for young people by the Tech4Kids volunteers. Cllr Murphy also met Savraj Kaur, executive director of UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham, who also co-founded Ready Tech Go, and others in her team.

The Mayor said: “To see a group of people willingly give up a precious Saturday for the benefit of others is amazing. What really struck me is the team’s complete selflessness. They will never directly see the joy on kids’ faces, the pride they will have and how their lives will be enriched, but I hope they all take great comfort from the fact that they are changing people’s lives.”

The team was refurbishing some of the 240 devices that have so far been donated by local residents, customer data science company Dunnhumby and life sciences platform Medidata.

The appeal still needs more support from residents and companies, with £159 providing a brand-new laptop to a young person.

The Tech4Kids project is a drive by H&F Council in partnership with local headteachers, the charity UNITED in H&F and social enterprise Ready Tech Go to make sure no youngster misses out on the chance to learn.

You can learn more or make a donation on the UNITED in H&F website.

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