Global law firm Kennedys has donated more than 2,000 pieces of unused IT equipment to help cash-strapped schools kit out new ‘digital classrooms’ for their students.
Rather than simply recycling or selling on items that are no longer needed, it has become the first corporate to partner with UK startup charity Every Child Online.
Founded during lockdown by Essex-based friends Mike Tarbard and Simon Gurner, the charity collects and reconditions PCs then sets them up in schools so they are ready for pupils to use.
More than 12,000 devices, worth around £3million, have been recycled to date, including 570 PCs and 1,048 monitors from Kennedys. The firm also donated 23 large screen TVs and 650 telephone handsets.
They have been distributed to around 170 state-run schools in Essex and London as well as community facilities such as other charities and youth clubs.
Mike, a marketer who also runs a building services company, and Simon, who owns an IT consultancy, were moved to help after seeing a news item about a child during the Covid-19 pandemic who, at home without a computer, had to do his schoolwork on his mum’s phone.
The dad-of-three says: “Simon and I had some spare kit that we decided to donate, but it was only when we started speaking to schools that we realised how dire the situation was.
“Technology is so much a part of our children’s lives now, yet most were having to work with equipment that was out of date and in poor condition.
“With the support of businesses and members of the public, we’ve been able to make a real difference. The donation from Kennedys, for example, benefitted three schools and we are talking up to 200 PCs, monitors and all accessories each, so the impact is huge.
“Many businesses sell their unwanted IT equipment, but to me there is so much more value in donating it to us. We call it the ‘IT full circle’ – the idea that these companies are helping children who may one day be working for them.”
Equipment, which is typically of a much higher spec than most schools can afford, is reconditioned with the help of students from local schools and colleges. Not only are all machines securely wiped using an industry standard three wipe process, with proof certificates provided, but they are also installed with windows 10 or Chrome Flex depending on the age and process power of the machines. Now, these recipient schools are able to add coding programs and graphic design tools to aid learning in to their curriculum
Anything that cannot be recycled is sold for parts, with proceeds ploughed back into Every Child Online. Mike, who fits the work around his day jobs, also relies on fundraising to cover expenses but says, while the charity is currently limited to Essex and London, he hopes to one day be able to roll it out across the UK.
Claire Renouf, head of IT operations at Kennedys, adds: “It’s been a real pleasure to work with Mike and the team and see the difference our donation is making. It not only fits with our sustainable practices but is also helping to give opportunities to young people and nurture the next generation of talent, which is something Kennedys is very passionate about.
“We’re proud to be the first law firm to work with the charity and it’s a partnership I know we will continue, but I hope this also inspires other firms to show their support and help even more children.”
The charity is launching a ‘Pass it on, Essex’ campaign during June, encouraging businesses to not only donate IT surplus but dedicate a space where employees can also bring in and leave their own unwanted equipment for Mike and the team to collect.