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Igniting Change Podcast Season 2: Episode 9

In Episode 9 of our 'Igniting Change' podcast, we are joined by Sue Gowling. Sue is the founder of Laptops4Learning, an organisation who work with corporations to get surplus technology into the hands of disadvantaged individuals to tackle digital poverty....

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S2 blogpost episode 8

Sue is the founder of Laptops4Learning, an organisation that repairs surplus technology from businesses, making it sustainable and available for social good, helping those who are digitally excluded to participate in our increasingly digital world. Our hosts Gabby and Rich discuss Sue’s journey and some of the great work and impact that Laptops4Learning has achieved.

How Sue started Laptops4Learning

Sue runs a tech company that specialises in the decommission and reuse of server equipment and other IT assets, with expertise in data handling and data erasure. Sustainability has always been at the forefront of what Sue does, with her first venture in the tech industry in 1995 promoting the repair and reuse of computer storage. She then progressed to the repair and reuse of all IT assets from hand-held through to servers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Sue realised that there was a great need for devices to enable education and communication during lockdown. Sue used her engineers to repair and refurbish the many surplus laptops and PCs that they had collected from their on-site work, getting devices out to help those in need in Cambridge, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, working closely with Councils and charities… and so Laptops4Learning was born!

The work quickly widened, with over 1200 devices going out during the first year, through Families First, Bedford Council, Level Trust, the Netherhall School, Mind Mosaic Counselling, the NHS and many other organisations.

Travels and Ideology

Sue was very close with her Dad when growing up, working with him during school holidays with his agricultural sales business and his work in the community through the Lions Club in Penrith Cumbria, and other charities helping those in need, from young to old, in the community. Tragically, her Dad died when Sue was 19; influenced by his compassion Sue has always wanted to build on his legacy.

Sue at a very early age loved the geography of the world and far flung places; as a toddler the fascination began by cutting out pictures from the National Geographic, in her teens an avid monthly reader. It was inevitable that she would become an extensive traveller, visiting many remote parts of the world that had fascinated her as a child, and thereby coming face-to-face with the poverty and challenges experienced by local people. Long before the formation of Laptops4Learning, helping others was very much part of Sue’s DNA. She has travelled extensively around the globe, forming a love and strong connection with Nepal and Tibet in the Himalayas, where she has helped raise funds to build schools and bring books to children in those areas, working closely with Children in Crisis in the early days and latterly Khen a local NGO in Cambodia, funding the building of two schools and a tech centre now using Laptops4Learning sustainable Laptops teaching young children to code. The schools are dedicated to her Dad are going from strength to strength and making a huge difference to the life-chances of the children attending.

Impact on Users

During the pandemic, Sue became increasingly aware of the scale of the challenges being faced by many who couldn’t get access to digital devices, and wanted to do something about it. Ever since, through Laptops4Learing, she has been actively helping make a difference, while promoting the importance of levelling the playing field when it comes to digital accessibility.

Since the start of the pandemic, Sue and the Laptops4Learning team have managed to get out over 4,000 devices to individuals who had no device of their own – a massive achievement and making a real difference to the lives of so many families both across the country, and further afield. From its initial work helping with education, Laptops4Learning now supports a very wide demographic, including refugees and the homeless. By repairing, refurbishing and both selling affordably and donating devices, Laptops4Learning has been able support those in need while being kind to our environment.

During lockdown, it was more apparent than ever that there was a massive digital divide in society for people who simply couldn’t (and still can’t) afford laptops or smart phones. They were and are cut off from so much that we take for granted in our digital world – communication, learning, shopping and access to services.  It’s essential for our society, our communities, our environment and of course our learning – to continue to build on our work and to make a life-changing difference.”  Sue Gowling

How can you help?

Your surplus tech can be put to great use, making a real difference to people’s lives, while helping the environment. Laptops4Learning offers hassle-free collection, full audit, and secure data erasure with certification by serial number for your peace of mind. Devices are made safe and plug-and-play ready to help those in need. All IT equipment can be handled, and you can get revenue back to help charities of your choice or get stories back from their partner charities about who you have helped.

To find out more, visit www.laptops4learning.co.uk or email sue@laptops4learning.co.uk or info@laptops4learing.co.uk

Listen now for the full discussion

To hear more of our conversation with Sue, listen now using the links below!

For more things tech for good, stay tuned to our blog or give us a holla to get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you 💚

Published on October 28, 2022, last updated on October 28, 2022

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