Lancaster and Morecambe Makers Ltd - a community group workshop based at White Cross in Lancaster - has launched a collection service for people who wish to donate an old or unused laptop or tablet which can then be used in a local school.
The idea came following the introduction of the latest national lockdown, and a social media appeal for help from a local school.
Kay Kempers, from the group, said: "I was looking at Twitter on Monday evening after the lockdown announcement and saw a request for help from a local primary school governor for donations of laptops or tablets as his school did not have enough to give to their pupils who would need them for home learning.
"Prior to my current 'day job' at Edge Hill University, I was working as a high school teacher in Morecambe for many years so I fully understand the difficult circumstances of many families in our area.
"I had a quick chat with some of our members and we decided we could help. We have previously repaired older laptops, and have the tools to do so at our workshop.
"Although we do not have any funding, we do have the skills and the willingness to help."
And so, on Monday night Kay put out an initial request on a few local social media groups and her inbox was quickly filled with messages from people who were willing to help.
The group will take in the devices, repair them if necessary, securely wipe them of all previous data, and then install the software needed for the pupils to access their online learning.
A drop-off point has been set up at White Cross Business Park's main reception (Gatehouse) building and the group is also doing Covid-secure doorstop pickups for people who are shielding or unable to use the drop-off box.
"Our members are volunteering their time to prepare the devices for use and we will have the first few going out at the start of next week," Kay said. "We are hoping to continue and scale up this project as several local tech businesses, including Mazuma Mobile, have expressed interest in helping too.
"This only works when we work together, so offers of help are welcome too!"
Kay said several schools in the local area have already been in touch to ask for help.
Anyone who would like to make a donation should complete a form available on the group's website here.
If anyone has a device they can donate, then the following points are useful:
1. They will take laptops and tablets, even if they don't work. If they can't be repaired, then they strip them for parts to fix other machines. They also need as many chargers as possible as they are short of those currently.
2. The group has industry-standard software donated by a local software firm (Shadowcat Systems) to securely destroy personal data, but would urge donors to remove personal data (documents, photos etc.) from devices before donation.
3. They are trying to arrange additional Drop-Off Boxes but for now, please use the Main Reception at White Cross Business Park (Gatehouse building) - the entrance is on South Road opposite the RLI and is open all hours.
4. If the device needs a login/password or passcode, please email this to [email protected] (it's safer than leaving this information in the donation boxes!)
5. Please use the "digital donation" button at https://lamm.space/ to arrange a pickup if necessary or email [email protected]
6. Importantly, they are not giving devices directly to families in need, but to the local schools, who will know best who needs the devices, and they encourage any families in need to talk to their schools. Local schools are welcome to contact the group to be added to the donations list.