The Coronavirus pandemic has thrown up a digital divide for many people, which is excluding them from vital home education and social support due to a lack of suitable IT equipment at home. But the burden has not fallen on everyone equally, and it has exposed existing inequalities around digital exclusion. Too many are on the wrong side of the digital divide and a new scheme, “Laptops4learners” has recently launched across Somerset to help people cross it.

For children in families that have no computer or just share a single laptop, or that have poor internet access, keeping up with schoolwork from home can be difficult or impossible. Some of our elders also need assistance to get online enabling them to socialise again especially as many have not been outside of their homes since March last year.

Cllr Sarah Dyke who created the Laptops4Learners campaign in Somerset said “We know there are still many learners and elderly across the area without access to the IT devices they need to study or connect with others, so we are asking people to donate their old laptops, computers and other electronic items, which can then be renovated or broken down to be reinvested into the scheme and appropriate IT equipment donated back into the community where it’s needed”. Sarah added “This initiative is both friendly for people and for the environment, as reusing and recycling reduces demand for new IT products and reduces the CO2 and the environmental impact in making and buying new. These IT products will have their life extended, reducing the need to produce more.”

Sarah has engaged the support of local resident and business owner Simon Barfoot, and they are appealing to local community groups, PTA’s, sports and social clubs, and individuals to donate their unwanted laptops, tablets and other ICT products. Simon’s business, Blackmore IT – a specialist in IT recycling since 1995, will collect your donated IT, wipe all data before upcycling and renovating the equipment ready to donate it back to the community group to make sure it gets to where it’s needed most. You too can have a say on who gets help, if you know someone in need where you live.

Simon said “On average 5 items of tech are left unused in our homes having been replaced by newer products.  On top of this are many organisations and companies who have upgraded their IT and have valuable space taken up by spare and outdated IT, all of which would be perfect donations for this scheme”. He added “In our area alone there are probably enough PCs and tech to make sure every child who needs a computer can have one. We still need many more laptops to meet demand for the campaign.” Simon is encouraging anyone with ideas or laptops they want to donate to get in touch.

People or organisations wishing to support the campaign or donate old IT hardware should contact Simon Barfoot by email

For more details about you can help promote the scheme, contact Cllr Sarah Dyke

Donate your old IT and support lockdown learners and vulnerable people