Your Questions Answered
Its very simple.
We refurbish old & unloved donated laptops and turn them into usable laptops for school kids and adults who are on the wrong side of the digital divide.
People across West Somerset, UK, donate their old laptops. We particularly work in:
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 SSD 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. At present we are not working with Windows 11.
We install Word processing (LibreOffice - which works very similarly to MS Word), either Edge, Firefox or Safari browsers, and also Zoom and MS Teams.
Requests for laptops
We then take Requests for Laptops from families with school aged children, and also adults who need them. We also take applications from Agencies and Schools on a family's or adult's behalf - where they know of a situation where a free laptop would make a big difference.
We process applications, call the requesting applicant, and we then arrange a date for a delivery for those who pass the application process. The laptop is donated to the new recipient for free, it is not on loan. however we do politely request that if the laptop is no longer needed, that the new owner donats it back to us so we can recycle it again.
This all costs money
We are asking for financial donations please to support the work. Thank you.
A small number of the donated laptops, including newer Apple Laptops, 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 people in our community with special circumstances where purchasing a modern laptop is beyond financial means. For example, families with school-aged children supporting school work, and adults who maybe are preparing for return to work, or 18+ year olds in education. We also will supply laptops to locally based non-profits who do specific community-facing work where laptops would assist.
We also accept requests for laptops direct from schools, or support agencies working with families and adults, on their behalf. All applications for laptop start here.
SCHol Tech is run by a team of local volunteers who live in 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 etc.
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, on a case by case basis.
How do you decide who is eligible?
For families and individuals who apply on their own behalf, we operate on trust.
There are various questions on the online application forms we use and we contact each potential recipient before deciding if we will allocate a laptop.
Requests for laptops that come from schools or agencies applying on behalf of the intended recipient will go straight to the top of the list, as the need is authenticated by the professional who is applying.
To request a laptop start here
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.
Our very good friends, Andy, from Taunton Laptop Repairs in Taunton, and Microcheck in Wellington, sell professionally refurbished laptops. Laptops are typically in the £90 to £200 price range.
Andy at Taunton Laptop Repairs can be contacted on 07711 994434.
Microcheck in Wellington can be contacted on 01823 664943.
Please do not apply for a laptop if you are genuinely able to purchase one from a local supplier. You are supporting others in our community who genuinely cannot afford one if you are able to purchase one locally.
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.
There are UK wide schemes for some to acquire 6 months of free broadband, or vouchers. see this article.
Do you supply printers / take in donated printers?
No we don't. We currently only work with laptops.
Do you supply iPads / take in donated iPads?
No we don't. We currently only work with laptops.
Do you supply desk based PCs / take in donated desk based PCs?
So far we haven't. We don't currently accept community-donated desktop machines, but we are considering recycling quality commercially-donated desktop PCs to give away to those in need.
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. Charities and non-profits can benefit from non-profit pricing on Microsoft 365, the annual rental system to acquire Word, Excel & Powerpoint etc.
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, Taunton Laptop Repairs and Microcheck in Wellington, to name two (see abive for contact details). Also, try looking in local parish/village magazines, for example, for IT support 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 agency will go straight to the top of the list for the next batch of laptops going out. We advise each applicant who is successful the intended date of the next delivery run.
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.
Do let us know on our 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). We are a company registered with Companies House, but as a non-profit motivated, community group. No one who works for, or with, Schol Tech CIC is paid. Only appropriate expenses are covered for each volunteer. We try and focus everything we can on the collection, refurbishment & delivery of laptops. We have a small amount of annual overhead running things like this website, email, SMS texting etc.
We can accept direct bank transfers Schol Tech CIC (please contact us to offer direct donations), or you can donate with your card via our GoFundMe campaign which transfers to the Schol Tech CIC account, less a processing fee.
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, 3 times, to completely obliterate 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 the machine is supplied with a fixed SSD memory, then we use manufacturer tools, to 'factory reset' the SSD to a blank state.
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 in the machine, and sellotape the screws onto the caddy before donation. Thank you.
We will add more questions to this page as they come up.