Richmond Rugby Club is launching Second Hand Tech Saturdays during lockdown for people to donate any unused laptops and tablets, which will then be distributed to children that attend Richmond schools.
Following the success of a previous campaign to feed the borough’s children during the Covid-19 pandemic, a scheme that was supported on social media by Marcus Rashford, the organisation have now turned their attention to technology.
After high demand for devices from families and schools in the area, the club is asking for people to take their donations to the entrance of the Richmond Athletic Ground, where a drive-in drop off service will be taking place every Saturday during lockdown, 11am-1pm.
Dom Palacio, Richmond Rugby’s Head of Community said: “The idea came about because of ever-changing decisions by the government about lockdowns, and schools opening and then not opening.
“It was a torrid, stressful period in the last week of the Christmas break where nobody really knew what was happening.
“What was apparent from the learnings we got last time round was it’s actually quite scary how many kids and families don’t have tech.
“We have spoken to a handful of mums this week who are trying to home-school two or maybe three kids using one smartphone, because they don’t have a laptop or tablet.”
The initiative has been supported by Veritas Digital Services, who have offered to refurbish the donated computers before they are redistributed to children within the community.
Sue Gowling, founder of Veritas Digital Services said: “We are acutely aware of the urgent need for laptops and devices to bridge the growing digital divide laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been using our expertise to help address this problem, securely erasing data, and repairing and refurbishing devices for reuse by those in need.
“We strongly support the appeal by Richmond Rugby to make a difference in their local community, and are delighted to be able to use our expertise to maximise the impact of what they can collect, getting help to more families sustainably and helping our environment at the same time.
The club has already been contacted by schools in the area requesting the devices to help pupils attending their schools, with one secondary school requesting 22 laptops.
Palacio added: “My message to Richmond schools and families out there who need help would be to just get in contact. We know it’s tough out there.
“I’ve got friends and family who have been made redundant through this period who are struggling, it’s unprecedented times. Don’t be embarrassed about asking the question.
“A child’s education is massively important and if you miss even a month of it, it could have a knock-on effect further down the line.”
Although the initiative is going some way into helping local school children, Palacio still believes that the government should address the lack of free wi-fi access that would enable pupils to get online to continue their education without additional strain on family finances.
He said: “Sports organisations like us getting laptops and making sure they are refurbished for use is one thing. As much as it is an honour to be able to do it, there needs to be some joined-up thinking by the Government about how you get these families online by supplying free wifi too.”
A Club spokesman added: “It has been a pleasure to be able to support the community throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We are an open and inclusive club and we will put our resources anywhere where they are required.”
More information can be found via the website.
Featured image credit: Richmond Rugby Club