Tackling the digital poverty divide with Reusing IT

Tracy Moffat
Tuesday 14 November 2023

The University of St Andrews and Reusing IT, a West Lothian based charity, have worked in partnership for over ten years to combat digital poverty. Reusing IT refurbish and repair thousands of PC’s, laptops and other IT equipment, to supply low-income households and overseas organisations working in education, health and agriculture.

One in five children home schooling during the pandemic did not have access to an appropriate device like a laptop. With each new development in technology, more people are left behind. This also makes existing inequities around race, gender, age, ability and income worse. (Digital Poverty Alliance)

Local Charities

Currently, Reusing IT are working with local St Andrews charity, Families First, who engage with children and young people aged 5 to 16 years who face significant challenges in life to provide laptops. Families First offer new opportunities, help children to broaden their horizons and become engaged in issues that affect their community. This helps to improve their mental and physical wellbeing, providing young adults who care about their community.

Project Zambia

The partnership has directly supported the University’s Project Zambia, providing laptops and mobile phones to local schools in the country. Aimed at taking health, education and sport to the children of Zambia, the project is a collaboration between the University’s Department of Sport & Exercise and Student Services, who work with the non-government organisation, Sport in Action.  

University’s Project Zambia delivering technology
Colleagues from IT Services and Saint Sports

Supporting education in Ukraine 

Hundreds of Ukrainian schools were damaged, and more than 1.6 million schoolchildren were forced to switch to distance learning as a result of the war on Ukraine. Of these, a third do not have access to online learning due to a lack of technology or communication methods. Reusing IT have already delivered over 1000 desktop pcs to 50 secondary schools across Ukraine using the donated equipment from the University of St Andrews, the University of Aberdeen and other partners.

Ross Cockburn, Founder and Trustee of Reusing IT was recently invited to Kyiv to meet the Minister for Education and Science to thank Reusing IT for their contributions and develop a plan to help support schools, colleges, and universities to run as normally as possible while Ukraine is at war. 

“I’m so grateful to the University of St Andrews for having the foresight all those years ago to ensure that their end-of-life IT equipment is used in such a positive way.  Through their donations, and those of other partners, we can make a real difference to the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves.” 

Ross Cockburn, Reusing IT
Ukrainian classroom PC’s provided by Reusing IT
Ukrainian children receiving Reusing IT laptops

Reciprocal Visit

This month Ukrainian delegates from the Educational Initiatives Foundation and US Non-profit Hearts for Ukraine visited the University of St Andrews to thank them for the valuable contribution made via Reusing IT. Their mission is to ensure the continued education using virtual classrooms, connecting students and teachers across the nation, allowing lessons to continue despite physical barriers.

“It’s so rewarding to see redundant IT equipment being brought back to life and used to support local and international causes.  Seeing the photographs of children using the computer classrooms in Ukraine are wonderful! I encourage all IT leaders to look at their disposal options and consider Reusing IT as part of their social and sustainability agendas.”

Steve Watt, Chief Information Officer, University of St Andrews
Colleagues from IT Services and Ukrainian delegates

How can you get involved?  

  • Donate IT equipment:  Reusing IT will collect from your company and provide necessary data destruction certificates
  • Volunteer 
  • Fundraise 

Festive Fundraising

IT Services are fundraising for Reusing IT during November and December 2023. Please contact Tracy Moffat, Business Relationship Support Officer email [email protected] for more information or donate directly at Just Giving Help make it “Merry Mobile Computing for One and All”.

Does your charity need support?

If you are a local charity and need some IT equipment, please contact Reusing IT.

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