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ITVET's laptops for schools campaign gets a BBC boost



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A community-minded Bishop’s Stortford business is coming to the aid of families in need by providing refurbished laptops to help with homeschooling.

Staff at tech company ITVET, in London Road, have been driving as far as Northampton and Aylesbury to pick up donated devices before getting them up to speed and passing them on to schools.

Their campaign was highlighted on BBC Look East and resulted in offers of 550 old laptops – and now Indie readers can get involved by dropping off devices to our North Street office.

ITVET staff outside their London Road offices, from left, Grace Emery (client service advisor), Janet Conboy (senior compliance manager), Dominic Webb (senior escalations manager), James Ellams (senior project manager), Euan Browne (deployment engineer) and Daryl Fuller (company director). Picture: Vikki Lince
ITVET staff outside their London Road offices, from left, Grace Emery (client service advisor), Janet Conboy (senior compliance manager), Dominic Webb (senior escalations manager), James Ellams (senior project manager), Euan Browne (deployment engineer) and Daryl Fuller (company director). Picture: Vikki Lince

ITVET is trying to meet a huge demand for equipment as pupils struggle to keep up with their schooling from home because they do not have access to their own desktop computer, laptop or digital tablet.

Richard Fountain, ITVET’s director, started appealing for donations of unwanted laptops in November and his team have been refurbishing devices and passing them on to local schools ever since.

“We had a busy weekend – it’s been pretty frantic,” he said following the firm’s appearance on the regional TV news. “The staff have stepped up fantastically in their own time.”

Euan Browne and James Ellams with bags and bags of donated laptops – and this is not all of them! Pic: Vikki Lince (44132756)
Euan Browne and James Ellams with bags and bags of donated laptops – and this is not all of them! Pic: Vikki Lince (44132756)

One woman who offered her own laptop appealed to friends and neighbours for devices, and when Richard turned up to collect hers she presented him with a dozen computers.

Laptops are vital to so many school students who have been forced to switch to remote learning during the third lockdown; Birchwood High School in Stortford has appealed to ITVET for 180 laptops.

Schools have a legal obligation to provide access to remote education to children required to stay at home. The Department for Education pledged to provide laptops to any child in Years 3 to 11 on free school meals who does not have one, but a vast shortage remains.

And Richard says the problem runs even deeper. “Some parents aren’t in the lower-income bracket but they’re still struggling and too proud to ask for help, and they fly under the radar,” he said.

Deployment engineer Euan Browne replaces a hard drive in one of the laptops. Pic: Vikki Lince
Deployment engineer Euan Browne replaces a hard drive in one of the laptops. Pic: Vikki Lince

It comes at a price for ITVET to fix the laptops – as well as staffing costs, the team may need to replace broken parts.

They also aim to install new, fast hard drives in each refurbished laptop, so they have launched a £5,000 online appeal which has so far yielded £2,400.

“It makes them faster and means we can turn them around much more quickly,” said Richard.

Birchwood High School in Stortford has appealed to ITVET for 180 laptops. Pic: Vikki Lince
Birchwood High School in Stortford has appealed to ITVET for 180 laptops. Pic: Vikki Lince

“Each drive costs us £20. We’d been funding these ourselves but decided to try to upscale the volumes by asking for donations.

“For every £20 donated, a pupil will receive a refurbed laptop with a new hard drive installed.”

Laptops can be dropped off at ITVET’s office, at 93 London Road, weekdays 8am to 5pm as well as the Indie office, at 12 North Street, on weekdays between 9am and 5pm, where two devices have already been dropped off.

For more details, visit www.itvet.co.uk or www.facebook.com/itvetuk. To donate to its campaign, see www.gofundme.com/f/laptops-for-schools-keep-students-learning.



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