'It makes me smile' - How Hadleigh man helped children access home learning

Community hero Neil Bevis. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Community hero Neil Bevis, from Hadleigh. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A man from Hadleigh has helped children access their home-schooling while also using technology to bring families closer together during the pandemic.

Neil Bevis, owner of Home Computer Services in Hadleigh, launched his own 'Device Recycle scheme' in September to revive second-hand pieces of equipment. 

He has been encouraging people to donate their old and unused devices, so they can be used by families trying to access remote learning when schools were closed. 

So far, he has worked with 12 schools in and around his hometown of Hadleigh, including Kersey Primary School and St Mary's Church of England Primary School. 

Community hero Neil Bevis. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Community hero Neil Bevis, who lives in Hadleigh and has been bringing unused laptops back to life to donate to school children and those in need. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Bevis, who has lived in Hadleigh all his life, said some children had no choice but to access their home-learning on their parent's phone.

But now, thanks to the donations of the community and the work of Mr Bevis and his team, they have been able to have the technology they need.

"It really does make me smile," said Mr Bevis, who has invested thousands of pounds of his own money to kickstart the scheme. 

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"I have had some amazing feedback from children saying how much they appreciate it, which has been great."

Mr Bevis has helped around 160 children and more than 200 people in total, providing them with revived equipment, which is all second-hand.

A lot of the devices he receives are often unusable, but Mr Bevis and his team use the parts of a number of devices to make one work. 

All of the data on any device donated is completely erased.

"Many people have laptops, PCs and tablets sitting in a cupboard and they are not sure what to do with them," said Mr Bevis.

"But now more than ever the demand for recycled products is huge.

"People have become very quick to disregard old pieces of equipment whenever they buy something new. You might think they are worthless, but they can serve a great use."

As well as school children and families, Mr Bevis has also donated the functional devices to elderly members of the community.

He said people are "desperate to keep in contact with loved ones", adding: "technology has brought families together during Covid".

"A lot of grandchildren who cannot visit their grandparents because of the virus have organised for us to provide them with a laptop or tablet," said Mr Bevis.

"This has been a lifeline to so many people, to help them keep connected."

Community hero Neil Bevis. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Community hero Neil Bevis, who has lived in Hadleigh all his life. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Aside from the device recycle scheme, Mr Bevis has also set up the 'Just Food' foodbank in Hadleigh, and the Hadleigh Community Support Group on Facebook, to provide a space for people struggling during the pandemic. 

The Facebook group brings small services and charities together to support residents through these difficult times.

Mr Bevis explained: "The group has been brilliant. 

"It signposts unknown and smaller charities to people in need. There are clothing charities, heating services and a telephone a friend scheme. 

"This has completely been a community effort, as it can't operate without the people."

A few weeks ago, Mr Bevis put a post in the support group asking for a pair of size nine second-hand trainers, for a man who arrived in Hadleigh with no shoes. 

Within 24 hours he had three pairs of second-hand shoes and one brand new pair. 

"It was amazing," said Mr Bevis. "People have really come together in Hadleigh and the community spirit has flourished.

"Sometimes it will take a global situation like this to bring people together, as it is very easy to live in your own tunnel.

"But when something like this happens, doors open, and people come together."

Mr Bevis' foodbank has also provided support to more than 1,600 people in the town, regularly helping around 30 families. 

He said it would be wonderful when a foodbank is no longer needed, but for now it is a vital service in the community.

For more details about the Hadleigh Community Support Group see here.

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