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Fixing laptops for reuse in the community, with Catbytes in Lewisham

This year, having access to functioning technology has become more important than ever. Community groups across the country are running donations schemes to collect laptops and other electronic devices and pass them on those who need them – we are listing them.

Helping out Catbytes in Lewisham

But not all donations that these schemes receive can be passed on after a mere wipe of data — some need a little more TLC. Fortunately, as Restarters that’s right up our alley. So while we’re not holding public events in London, we put our skills to use in another way.

We partnered with Catbytes CIC, an organisation based in Lewisham, South London. While Catbytes usually runs tech clubs and helps small organisations and community centres with their websites and IT infrastructure, the pandemic turned their interest towards hardware. Since the spring, Catbytes has collected donations of unwanted devices which they pass on to local residents.

This helps them stay on track with their education, connect with loved ones or do necessities like ordering groceries.

Fixing donated laptops

On two afternoons in October, our volunteers joined us at Catbytes. We were able to use a community hall, which gave us enough room for six fixing tables. After a round of introductions and a quick briefing on our Covid safety regulations, the volunteers were eager to get started.

Among the non-functional laptops, there was something for every skill set: from loose connections and overheating devices to problems with the operating systems — everyone could contribute. Social distancing didn’t stop us from helping each other with the repairs either. Questions and advice were shared through the room, along with jokes and stories. Everyone clearly enjoyed being back at a fixing event

“It felt great to be back in a communal fixing environment – sharing knowledge and humour with like minded Restarters again!” – Jamie, volunteer

After the two sessions, we fixed more than 10 laptops. These devices will now go out to local residents.

“It was great to see the Restart volunteers getting busy with their screwdrivers and soldering irons. They fixed a lot of laptops, and wrote really good reports on all the laptops they looked at. From my interaction with them I could see that they really felt the value of what we are doing. This made it a great collaboration. There are children in Lewisham now doing homework on laptops fixed by Restart.” – Damian, founder of Catbytes CIC

We’re getting organised for more collaboration with London community reuse projects in the New Year, if conditions allow.

Are you running a similar project in your community? Let us know, we’d love to hear about it.

2 responses

  1. Paula Easterling

    Hi I have a desk top computer, and printer, it has modem screen keyboard, it was my mothers and not used very mac

    1. janetgunter

      Hi Paula, Feel free to get in touch with the groups that reuse computers to see if they will accept yours! Here’s the full list in London

      And across the UK:

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