With lockdown proving difficult for children’s education, our community heroes have come to the rescue with #CompsForKids, and you could help.
Well over 200 laptops and tablets have been donated to a community campaign, to ensure every child in Redcar and Cleveland is able to complete their school work in lockdown. With 70 devices already allocated, hundreds more are needed and several community heroes have vowed to achieve this goal.
The #CompsForKids campaign is the work of Dormanstown group Ladies of Steel, Marske and New Marske Community Information Group (MNMCIG) and Redcar businessman, Ja Reed of EnterIT, who has been refurbishing the computers for free; as well as Redcar & Cleveland Council, which is organising collections and is working with schools to arrange refurbishments.
The first laptop was given to a boy from Dormanstown. The child gave the campaigners an envelope which contained all his Christmas money. Chris Powlay, who helps run Dormanstown’s Corus Sports and Steel Club with his wife Debbie, Chair of the Ladies of Steel, explained “We politely refused his donation, but we really appreciate his offer and applaud him for his kindness. It just shows how much of a need there is.”
“It started because a friend on Facebook was talking about it. He knew a family in Dormanstown with three children, the oldest had to share a laptop with his mum and the two youngest were sharing a mobile phone. This is to do their schoolwork. We thought we’d do what we could to help and it’s just gotten bigger and bigger”.
Ja Reed, who has an IT business called EnterIT, has added new hard drives to most of the computers to ensure long-term use and has welcomed the fact that schools will be involved in restoring the computers.
“It started really small but it’s just snowballed. I got a call to see if I could donate a couple to a school and I said, ‘yes.’ Then I got a call from Chris who said a friend had donated five and asked if I could wipe and refurbish them for a small fee.” Ja explained.
“I said if the parts are covered, I’ll work for free. We thought we’d have a few, maybe a dozen, but with the help of Karen King, we’ve collected a few hundred and there’s more coming in all the time.”
Ms King said “To help with buying replacement parts and chargers, we’ve also had a generous donation of £300 from a lady in Marske, who wishes to remain anonymous. The Marske, New Marske and Redcar coronavirus Support Group made a large donation from their volunteers, which was raised by donating any money from the people they have helped. This was given for petrol and expenses, but they wanted to give it to the community rather than keep it for themselves.”
“We’ve even had envelopes with small cash donations to help with the upgrade costs of the laptops people have donated to us. We’ve had such lovely messages from teachers about how it’s going to help these children and take the pressure off the schools and families.”
Karen has also revealed that several ward councillors have donated money from their ward allowances and have received donations from other organisations as well:
- Beyond Housing has donated 5 brand new devices.
- RCVDA obtained funding from Sabic and Sirius Minerals, which has allowed a further 67 machines to be sent to local Schools.
- Channel 5 in Redcar has also repaired several devices for free, which have been delivered to EnterIT.
Members of the public have also been recognised for their generosity, such as retired policeman, Phil Brown from Guisborough, who’s donated his computer and iPad, so that a child has a better chance of learning during Lockdown.
The widower, who still has a computer so he can keep in touch with people and follow his passion for family history, said the experience of his own grandson motivated him to donate. He said: “It’s going back a few years but my grandson was diagnosed as quite badly dyslexic and was given a computer. The difference was really dramatic, he had a file for this and a file for that, and he began to fly. He ended up with a degree at Leeds University to do with business and computers, and he now actually teaches at a school. It shows the difference a computer can make to a child. My opinion is every school child should be given one if they haven’t got one.”
In a joint statement, Karen King of MNMCIG, Ja Reed of EnterIT and Chris Powlay of Ladies of Steel, said: “We’d like to personally thank Mr Brown for his wonderful donation and every last person who has donated. You are making a big, practical difference to children and young people right here on our doorstep.”
Councillor Alison Barnes, Cabinet member for children, also said “This is a lovely gesture from Mr Brown and it shows just how much people want to help those who are amongst the more disadvantaged of our young people, and give them a better and fairer chance to succeed. It’s a community campaign that we’re backing and the work of people like the Powlay family at Ladies of Steel and Ja Reed at EnterIT is truly outstanding. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in this wonderful project and every person who has donated so far. This will have an immediate, positive impact on our children and young people who need to access a computer to do their work during lockdown.”
How can you get involved?
If you’d like to donate a laptop or tablet, secure the device in a bag – this can be a plastic carrier bag sealed with tape – and phone your local library or one of three other drop-off centres (see details below). You’ll be asked to sign an agreement form, upon arrival. The devices will then be given to Schools for allocation to the families who are most in need.
Organisers have stressed that all laptops and tablets will be wiped of personal data for free. These devices will then be upgraded, before they’re passed onto local Schools for allocation.
Please remember to follow Covid-19 regulations and comply with social distancing.
|South Bank Library
|The Community Heart, Redcar.
|Inspire 2 Learn, South Bank.
|South Tees Business Centre, South Bank.
If you’re a large business looking to make a donation, then you can phone either Ladies of Steel or Enter IT to discuss arrangements on your donation.
Ladies of Steel: 07876 571399
Enter IT: 07460 720448
More information on how to donate is available on the Ladies of Steel Facebook page.