Local Charity Wants Old PCs to Help Disadvantaged Young People

PALS Society.

Your old or broken computers can help local children and young people with autism or learning difficulties into employment, says Steve Bond of PALS Society as the Fareham-based charity launches an appeal for donations this week. Sarah Cheverton reports.

Local charity, People with Alternative Learning Styles (PALS) Society launches an appeal on Friday 6th October for 1000 old or broken computers to be donated by local residents and businesses. The launch takes place at 9.30am at Tesco, Quay Street, Fareham.

PALS aims to to help young people with autism or learning difficulties into employment and the appeal for old computing equipment marks the beginning of a new project. The computers donated will be disassembled, the components tested, and then the working parts reassembled into working computers.  All of this work will be done by young people who want to learn more about computers with a view to working in the IT sector in the long term.

Chairman of PALS Society Steve Bond said, ‘It’s shameful how few opportunities there are for young people with autism or learning difficulties, who often have incredible talents with computers but few qualifications.

‘We want to give these people the same chances that all young people have, and your unwanted or broken computers can be put to good use to help with their learning.’

Tesco have organised a drop-off point in their store on Quay Street in Fareham where people can take old computers, laptops, cables, power leads, keyboards, mice, monitors, or storage devices.  The PALS Society are also interested in any local businesses that are decommissioning their IT systems and servers and is offering a collection service for bulky items.  All hard drives donated will be securely and permanently wiped.

If you don’t have any equipment to donate, Steve Bond says there are plenty of other ways to help, including organising drop-off points throughout the Solent region.

‘It would be great to have drop off locations in Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Southampton, Eastleigh, Botley, Hedge End, Winchester, or any of the villages in the Solent area. It could be where you work, a shop with a store room in the back, a bank, a supermarket, library or perhaps a school. We can provide publicity posters and will organise pick up arrangements with any venue or organisation acting as a drop-off point.’

The up-cycled computers will be used by PALS Society for work placements next year, which will provide a safe environment for young people to develop work-ready skills without entering a corporate workplace.  The placements will be sponsored by a local business or public sector organisation who will provide a customer for the work, and PALS Society will provide or facilitate the technical and skills development needed to complete the project.

Any surplus equipment will be reconfigured, fully tested, and sold ‘at cost’ to local residents who cannot afford to buy a new computer.

Local mum, Anne-Marie, whose son has autism said, ‘We are really worried about the future of our children and PALS Society is a breath of fresh air.  We have searched through our loft and cupboards and are donating all our unwanted bits to this great cause.’

In the long term, PALS Society wants to help create and maintain businesses that employ people with autism or learning difficulties and act as a stepping stone into mainstream employment. The charity also plans to conduct research into outcomes for young people with autism or learning difficulties, to help lobby for local and national policies that work towards ‘a fair and inclusive society for everyone, irrespective of the way an individual thinks or learns.’

To donate, find out more or get in touch with PALS Society, head over to their website or Facebook page.