Cyber and Tech
How a community, and an independent computer business, came to the rescue of home-schooling families
In a few years' time, as the benefits to their education become apparent, they may look back on how their community rallied to deliver them the laptops that allowed them to home-school through the pandemic.
As our political lords and masters continue to do battle over why and why not some schools will or won’t get laptops so pupils without can learn as well, some have already acted.
In Hempsted, to the West of the canal to Sharpness just south of Gloucester city centre, a group of residents came together on social media – determined to support one another and make a difference.
“At the start of the first lockdown thecommunity started the Hempsted Village Kindness group.
“It started on Facebook initially, encouraging one another to volunteer to keep an eye on the older generation, to get shopping for those who needed it, run errands for those who couldn’t, discover how to donate to food banks, check on the elderly,” said Steve Davis, a resident of Hempsted and the founder of the independent business Cotswold Computer Medic opposite Gloucester Rugby’s Kingsholm ground.
“This was also when children were suddenly expected to home-school. In some cases we heard of families of three or more children trying to do the work on a single mobile phone.
“So, the group put out an appeal on Facebook to see if anyone had old laptops they would be prepared to donate. I then refurbished them and they were given to families so their children could benefit from them.
“I think we dealt with about 15 or 20 laptops and tablets in the end.”
Andy Lamb, from the 197 member-strong Hempsted Virtual Kindness group, coordinated the efforts with Dave Bucknell organising and many others also making it possible.
The laptop issue continues nationally through to today as positive and suspected cases of covid-19 see pupils facing home-schooling as they await the all-clear to return to the classroom.
For Mr Davis, all of the above came at a particularly busy time for his business.
The small businesses of up to five staff which Cotswold Computer Medic supports came rushing for help as did the many others suddenly facing the prospect and challenges of working from home.
This was all while his wife continued to work on at a city primary school, looking after the children of keyworkers who attended through lockdown, and the couple’s own two school-age children faced the challenges of the pandemic as well.
Demand from home-workers for support has not stopped, but the supply of webcams, laptops, tablets, is beginning to return to some sort of normal, said Mr Davis – hit as it was by the high demand and the shutdown of factories in China.
Which is just as well, as Christmas is now in the mix too.
“We are also now also helping people buy what they want for Christmas. We can set them up with software or security so they are ready to go on Christmas day and they don’t have to spend five hours setting their machines up,” said Mr Davis.
He can help you with pretty much anything computer-related, it seems – just don’t be too disappointed if you ask for a certain gaming machine from Santa this year.
“The new Xbox series X, which have just come out, were retailing for £450 if you pre-ordered. They are immediately re-selling on eBay for £900 to £1,000,” said Mr Davis.