When people get in touch with us, it’s not always to lease additional Macs. Sometimes they’re looking to upgrade their existing equipment. What happens to their old devices? Honestly, we’ve never asked – but they often get left in an office cupboard to gather dust.
That is, until James Cadwaladr of recruitment consultancy Seneca Bridge Resource Partners picked up the phone. He’s sparked something we find simply inspirational.
James came to us to lease some Macs at the back end of 2020. With their old equipment redundant and a third lockdown imminent, he spotted an opportunity to really make a difference. James discovered that 1.8 million children didn’t have the necessary devices to learn remotely. So, he had an idea: give away their five laptops to a new home through a local Facebook group.
Within an hour, their old devices had been snapped up to help with homeschooling – and this is where things really started to snowball…
From doorstops to laptops
James received 12 responses. He didn’t expect to have to turn people down, or that parents would ask him where they could locate other free devices. He was struck by another idea.
He decided to get other organisations involved, and put out a message to his local business community on LinkedIn. He asked if anyone had any spare equipment to give to children who didn’t have the right kit for remote learning.
By the end of the day, he had 20 donation offers. The campaign was called ‘doorstops to laptops’ (quite simply, because one of James’ old devices was literally being used as a doorstop!). When more and more started to donate, it became apparent that they could do something much bigger.
A movement is born
From a recruitment business perspective, James recognised very early on that school children are our future workforce. We need to give them every opportunity to succeed now so that they can become the fantastic, skilled workforce that they were on their way to becoming before the pandemic hit.
In fact, James believes it would be a dereliction of our duty to stand idly by as children are robbed of their education and future. The next genius, after all, can come from a disadvantaged family who can’t access the right technology. They shouldn’t have to fall behind.
So ‘Tech to the Future’ was born. The whole idea of the campaign is to make accessing equipment as easy as possible. Thankfully, James found more than enough willing partners in the local area to support it.
Bringing the community together
One of James’ family friends is a trustee of a number of charities. They introduced him to ARC North West, who work with disadvantaged children across the region, as well as mental health support service CAMHS. Both put James in touch with the schools that they work with in and around the Chester area, so he’s been able to help them directly.
The support kept coming in. i7 Technologies, the company who looks after Seneca Bridge’s own IT systems, wipe clean and upgrade all the devices that get donated, ensuring they’re in a position for children to use. A local campsite even turned their booking software into an inventory management system for Tech to the Future.
Lots of local people are also helping out with distribution. Tech to the Future currently has a turnaround time of about a week from donation to delivery. As they gain further structure and support, it’s expected that they can get more devices in homes more quickly.
Tech to the Future is urging anyone who has unused equipment in the local Chester area to donate them by emailing email@example.com. If you want to request a device for home learning, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.