FRC Group, a group of registered charities including Bulky Bob’s, has been supporting people living in furniture poverty for many years. Our definition of furniture poverty is the inability to access the essential furniture items, including white goods, that we all need to live a ‘normal’ standard of life, and in recent years we have also been looking at the issue of digital poverty.
Every year businesses dispose of millions of items of IT equipment — much of which is reusable. At the same time, families living on low incomes cannot afford the computers that they need to function ‘normally’ in society. Children can fall behind at school as education becomes more IT centred, a problem made even more acute during lockdown. Unemployed people can struggle to develop the skills and experience they need to compete in the job market, or complete required job searches, and elderly people cannot use communication tools like Skype that would reduce their social isolation.
We took the decision to include IT equipment in our broad definition of essential ‘furniture’ items and launched Reuse IT in September 2019 so we could obtain good quality IT equipment that we could sell at low prices and give away to through a crisis referral scheme. This is the same model we follow with Bulky Bob’s which collects unwanted furniture items through the bulky household waste contract with Liverpool City Council which we sell at low prices at Bulky Bob’s Furniture World and give away through our long-established crisis referral scheme.
Reuse IT collects unwanted IT equipment from local organisations and businesses, we securely wipe all data and refurbish the units ready for reuse. Some of the PCs are sold at low prices to cover the costs of the operation, while 20% of everything collected is given away through a crisis referral scheme in partnership with Citizen’s Advice Liverpool and Liverpool City Council’s Citizen Support Scheme. The more PCs we are able to collect and then sell, the more we can give away.
As well as the tremendous social benefits of providing free or low cost high specification IT equipment to people on low incomes, there are also great environmental benefits from reusing equipment rather than recycling it, and it reduces the amount of equipment that is destroyed and disposed of.
Reuse IT has held the contract with Liverpool John Moores University to collect all of their redundant IT equipment since September 2019, demonstrating our professionalism and strict adherence to GDPR regulations with regards to the secure wiping of all data. As is standard in this industry, everything is collected for free and we recoup the costs by selling some of the PCs in order to ensure that our operation is sustainable.
Collecting IT Equipment
The majority of our PCs are sold for £125, including a monitor, keyboard and mouse and we aim to sell to other charities, schools, social landlords and community groups to ensure that the PCs are going to those who most need them. Because our PCs are also delivered as part of the package, we usually have a minimum order requirement, again to ensure the operation remains sustainable.
We are always looking for more businesses and organisations to donate their unwanted IT equipment to us.
How it Works
We collect 10 or more computers on a single visit free of charge and securely datawipe them. The computers must be of a good quality so they are suitable for reuse, which means PENTIUM I5 standard and above.
For less than 10 computers, or for computers which are not of a reusable standard, there is a charge for datawiping and responsible recycling.
We urgently need more businesses and organisations to donate their redundant IT equipment to us. Organisations like LJMU, which has a regular IT renewal programme with lots of high specification PCs to pass on to us, are particularly welcome.
We then need to make sure that we sell enough of the low cost PCs, ideally to organisations who are also supporting people on low incomes, to ensure that this entirely not-for-profit operation is sustainable and to push up the numbers of PCs that we can give away for free.
For more details of our service, please email Claire.Donovan@EndFurniturePoverty.org