Your Questions Answered
Its very simple.
We refurbish old & unloved donated laptops and turn them into usable laptops for kids, families and adults who are on the wrong side of the digital divide.
People across Somerset, UK, donate their old laptops.
We are concentrating on laptops, so no iPads or desk based computers, thank you.
We accept Apple Laptops and Windows Laptops.
PS WE ALWAYS NEED MORE DONATED LAPTOPS! Please Donate Here
They do need to be models with a web-cam built in.
Our drivers then come and collect the laptop at a convenient time for you.
We then remove the hard disk, insert a blank memory and and put on new software.
This will either be Ubuntu Linux, for older model laptops, Windows 10 on newer laptops,
or Apple macOS on the Apple laptops.
We install Word processing (LibreOffice - which works very similarly to MS Word), either Edge, Firefox or Safari browsers, and also Zoom and MS Teams - to enable kids to connect into their schools and do the work they need to.
Requests for laptops
We then take Requests for Laptops from families who desperately need them.
We process applications, call the requesting family, and those who pass the application we arrange a date to deliver the refurbished laptop. The laptop is a gift, the new family own it.
This all costs money
We are asking for financial donations please to support the work. Thank you.
A small number of the better laptops, including the better Apples, that are donated are sold on the local second hand market as an additional method to raise money to help pay for the refurbishing of the majority of the machines we get.
Who we help
We are focussed on helping families who cannot afford laptops, and have children who have to presently share laptops, or are struggling with tablets when they need a proper computer, etc.
We accept requests for laptops direct from schools, or support agencies working with families, and from the families themselves.
SCHol Tech is run by a team of 18 volunteers (as of 24th March 2021) all from this area.
Answers to other popular questions:
Which areas do you cover?
At present we have been concentrating our efforts anywhere from Rockwell Green in south west Wellington, Somerset, UK up to East Bower in north west Bridgwater, basically following the M5 from J26 to J23. We include the villages in-between such as North Petherton, Thurloxton, Creech St Michael, Norton Fitzwarren, and Bradford on Tone.
The postcode areas we typically cover are
TA3 - only half nearest Taunton or Wellington
TA4 - only half nearest Taunton
EX15 3 - top right corner only nearest to Wellington
However we are open to helping those in Somerset outside of these post code districts.
How do you decide who is eligible?
For families and individuals who apply on their own behalf, we operate on trust.
We ask all those who apply to be honest in their answers.
However there are various questions on the application form and we call each potential recipient family before deciding if we will allocate a laptop.
Requests for laptops that come from schools or agencies applying on behalf of the family who need a laptop will go straight to the top of the list, as the need of the receiving family or individual is authenticated by those asking.
To request a laptop you need to fill in a form on this website.
Can schools or support workers apple on behalf of a family, or just the family themselves?
Yes of course - if a school or support worker of some kind wants to apply on a family's behalf by all means go ahead. The Request a Laptop page asks the right questions about this.
We CAN afford a cheap laptop, and don't need a free one. Do you sell them?
No we don't. But read on.
SCHol concentrates on free laptops to families in desperate need without the funds to acquire one.
However we do accept donations to help us pay for free laptops to give to those who genuinely need them. Anyone receiving a laptop for free is welcome to donate after they receive it, but that is not expected nor required at all.
As we give away the laptops, we offer zero warranty of any kind on the laptops.
Our very good friend, Andy, from Taunton Laptop Repairs is offering a click and collect sales service during Jan 2021 lockdown (and will re open along with other shops from April) for purchasing professionally refurbished laptops that are typically in the £90 to £200 price range. Andy does thorough careful checks on all laptops he professionally refurbishes - so if a warranty is important to you, please contact him on 07711 994434.
We don't have broadband or Wi-Fi at home. Is this a problem?
To work successfully from home you will need internet. If you don't have a phone line or broadband the other option is mobile phone broadband. The laptop may be able to connect to a mobile phone, if you own one, and use the internet via that signal.
If internet at home is an issue, please mention this on the Request a laptop form.
Do you supply printers / take in donated printers?
No we don't. We only work with laptops
Do you supply iPads / take in donated iPads?
No we don't. We only work with laptops.
Do you supply desk based PCs / take in donated desk based PCs?
No we don't. We only work with laptops.
Do you install Microsoft Word?
No we don't as it costs a lot of money to license. We install LibreOffice which does exactly the same thing and it is free. However families receiving Windows laptops can install MS Office if they already have a license to install it. The Ubuntu Laptops we give out cannot run MS Office or MS Word.
Are there ongoing costs after a laptop is donated?
We only install software which is free, or was already paid for and installed on the laptop.
We do recommend parents/carers turn on family filtering options on their home broadband, and also install a good quality security software suite, on the Windows laptops.
We recommend BitDefender.
If the laptop we have supplied needs repair, by all means contact us to see if we have capacity to fix it. There are many local IT companies in Wellington, Taunton and Bridgwater who can help you also with your laptop. Try looking in local parish/village magazines as well as other places for services that are offered in your area.
How quickly will I get a laptop if I request one?
We run a priority list - based on stated level of need and which order the requests come in. We are all volunteers doing this in our spare time - we run businesses and have family commitments ourselves etc.
So we just can't guarantee a turnaround time I am afraid. Applications for laptops made by a school or a recognised support worker will go straight to the top of the list for the next batch of laptops going out.
What warranty comes with the laptop?
Absolutely none. We take old laptops in, in faith. We are skilled IT personnel but we can't do the level of system checking that a professional seller does.
(See the answer above about buying laptops if you can afford that route).
We donate the laptop to you in good faith, but if it goes wrong soon after you receive it we are very sorry. But do let us know on the general contact form if you are having issues after delivery. If we can help we will.
If I donate money who is it going to?
Schol tech Community Interest Company (CIC).
I'm concerned about data if I get in touch. What do you do about my data?
Ok, there are a number of points in answer to this:
2. Laptop Data. When a laptop is donated with it's hard disk memory still in the machine, then we follow this process:
At Laptop triage, or at a Technician's home, that hard disk is removed.
This means all data and software on the laptop at the time of donation is completely taken out of the laptop, as a first step.
We don't look at the data on the hard disk. Every hard disk is then put through a secure wiping process, called DBANing. This is where the hard disk is plugged into a machine solely used for wiping. It writes random magnetism across the surface of the hard disk to completely obscure the original information. Once DBAN is complete the hard disk is clean, and that's the data gone forever off that memory. We insert fresh fast SSD replacement memories in each Laptop we refurbish.
If you have data on a machine that needs rescuing before the hard disk is DBAN'd you can indicate this on the donate form. We will return the Hard Disk to you and then you can use a local IT service provider to help you get the data off the drive.
If a laptop donor wants to be totally sure that data is not accessed, then we ask donors to remove the hard disk before donating the machine.
We don't need the hard disk, as explained above, and it saves us volunteer manpower in any case if the hard disk is removed. But if you do remove the hard disk, please leave the caddy and sellotape the screws onto the caddy and replace that back into the laptop please before donation. Thank you.
We will add more questions to this page as they come up.