A TAUNTON based charity, SCHol Tech has delivered what it hopes to be just the first community-refurbished Ukrainian language laptops, to refugees who have arrived in our area, after having been forced to leave their native homeland.

The group, run by three locally based IT professionals have been refurbishing locally-donated laptops since the start of 2021.

“Although none of us speak Ukrainian,” local IT professional Tim Finch said, “my colleague, Carl, researched what we would need to prepare laptops that will switch to a refugee’s native language, at a click of the mouse.”

Taking in freely offered laptops that members of the public, and local companies, no longer need, the group refurbish and completely reinstall the machines, ready to donate back to those in qualifying circumstances, who apply for a free computer.

The initiative was started by Bridgwater father of 3, Dan Taylor, and is now run by Tim Finch, Carl Molyneux and Brian Tagg – who all live in the Taunton and Wellington area.

Having collected, processed, and then delivered over 210 free laptops, in a little over a year, the group have recently added dual English and foreign language machines to their roster.

Somerset County Gazette: School children using one of the new laptops. Pictures: Contributed

Recognising that those coming from Ukraine often are mothers and children, probably needing to continue education away from their homeland, SCHol.Tech spoke to local community host groups who are taking in refugees and started work on laptops that would display their native languages on screen, and with keyboards laid out with both the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets.

Carl Molyneux, who also works in IT by day, prepared a laptop which was shown to Anna, a Ukrainian who is a local resident. With her British partner, Jon, who live near Ilminster, they were able to give detailed feedback on ways to improve the language display on the laptops.

Carl said: “With their feedback, we have been able to prepare two styles of laptops – specific to the respective needs of Western Ukrainians and Eastern Ukrainians, when they arrive in the area. We hope this is just the start of our ability to provide native language machines to refugees from other nations who come here, often with very little.”

Even without advertising their impending availability, 10 host families already have applied, via the group’s website, https://schol.tech, for laptops for the Ukrainian families they are hosting in the area.

SCHol Tech still supply refurbished computers for school children, adults and non-profit organisations, covering the Wellington, Taunton and Bridgwater area and surrounding villages. Those in qualifying circumstances can apply for machines via the https://schol.tech website.