Former Naval Engineer Refurbishing Computers For Schoolchildren

Research shows almost one million children in the UK do not have the devices needed for online lessons during lockdown.

A former naval engineer has been using the skills he learned in the military to make a difference to pupils' learning experience during lockdown.

Phil Macrae has been refurbishing old and used computers for schoolchildren for free after research showed that there are an estimated 14 million unused devices across the UK.

Research also shows that almost one million children do not have the technology – desktop, laptop or tablet – they need to do their lessons online. 

Mr Macrae, who owns The Speedy Bear computer repair service, has refurbished hundreds of devices for kids across the West Midlands.

Speaking to Forces News, Mr Macrae said the pressure on pupils, teachers, parents and schools at the moment had made him act.

"There's so many children like me, who came from a deprived area, parents were in difficult or financial hardships, the community couldn't give you a lot of support, teachers were in constant overwhelm, dealing with difficult situations and their budget constraints," he said.

"There was very little support as an individual so you had to pick up what you had very quickly and that was tough, that was incredibly tough."

Mr Macrae has refurbished hundreds of devices for students learning at home.

Mr Macrae said he has been drawing on his time in the military whilst providing the support.

"It doesn’t matter if you're on [a] ship or in the desert, or you're doing basic training, you've got to get the job done and it's that tenacity and that drive that I've applied here as well," he said.

"The thing that I enjoy the most is not so much the reward of what I'm doing but the input and the support from the community, because if the community don't donate the devices I've got nothing to work with."

Devices from across the UK have been donated to Mr Macrae for his project.

Chris Kirby, a teacher at Manor Park School in Coventry, explained why the refurbished devices from the former naval engineer are so essential.

He said: "Within my class at the moment, I have twins who are trying to share a phone... and trying to then do English work, maths work, spelling. Having the laptops is an easier sort of tool to work from.

"Honestly, it's been the best thing for our school and for many across the city."