TWO ‘ADMIRABLE’ old schoolmates who have been ‘upcycling’ laptops to help Rugby children homeschooling during lockdown have been handed a windfall to expand their project.
In January, Ryan Evans and Will Meadowcroft launched ‘Project Homeschool’ after learning that over one million children across the UK don’t have access to online devices to support their education.
To help children in Rugby, the pair put out a call on social media for family, friends and businesses to donate old and unused laptops and tablets which IT specialist Ryan fully refurbished.
They have so far handed out over 70 devices to The Revel C of E Primary School, Bilton Junior School, Clifton Primary School, Wolvey C of E Primary School and Eastlands Primary School.
Revel Primary Head of School Kate Worthington said: “We really appreciated the donation, as it enabled the school to further help and support the children with their online learning.”
With homework activities still taking place online and several months to go before coronavirus restrictions are fully relaxed, the pair are continuing the project – boosted by a £20,000 donation from local furniture and fittings manufacturer Häfele, which has already donated over 35 old laptops to Project Homeschool.
The money will enable Project Homeschool to buy 77 new laptops and tablets which will be donated to other Rugby primary schools.
As well as helping children’s education, the duo say donating laptops improves their equality and accessibility to important parts of modern life.
Ryan, 26, who has worked at Häfele for over 10 years, said: “The first part of our project was to help ensure every child in Rugby had equal access to everything they needed for their education while schools were shut. But speaking to teachers and other local school workers, we know this challenge will extend well beyond the pandemic.
“Being able to do homework relies on an internet connection, because school books are no longer considered safe to be taken in and out of school. Additionally, having online access is crucial to a modern child’s social development. So, this project has to keep going for as long as it can.”
He said the donation from Häfele would help them take thier project to the next level.
He added: “We will continue welcoming donations from people who want to put their old technology to good use, and thanks to Häfele, will now be able to team refurbished devices with brand new laptops which provides children who previously had no technology at their disposal, with the very latest equipment.”
Will, 25, who first came up with the idea for Project Homeschool, said: “We were initially shocked to discover that children in Rugby might face this struggle, in a society which has long been dominated by technology. My mum works in a school and when she explained how hard teachers were working to ensure children without laptops could continue their education in lockdown, we felt had to do something.
“Since our first appeal for equipment, it’s become clear that this project is a true community effort. Word of mouth and social media have been the driving force behind its success, but we are just pleased to have been able to help families in our area.
“If we can even make a small dent in levelling up the experiences of children in our local community, then we will have done our job.”
Nathan Cole, Chief Financial Officer at Häfele, said: “Ryan and Will’s venture is nothing short of admirable. Taking it upon themselves to support local children during one of the most disruptive periods they will ever experience in their life is humbling and we wanted to demonstrate that we are alongside them every step of the way by making a donation – both of our old stock, and financially, to reach even more pupils.
“It’s people like Ryan and Will who have made coronavirus and the lockdown that little bit more bearable. The kindness and selflessness of strangers is something we all experience in some form but can often be life changing, and Ryan and Will epitomise that.”
Search Facebook for ‘Project Homeschool Rugby’ to donate laptops and tablets.