Keeping IT in the community

Adrian Fillingham, Project Manager at Canopus Solutions, an IT asset management recycling company based in Liverpool, discusses their eco-friendly initiative, which sees computer equipment recycled and shared amongst the community

All signs indicate that, regardless of Brexit, the UK government will press on with a new European Data Protection Regulation next year. If the new law comes into force, a company could be fined 4% of its turnover if it fails to safely wipe the confidential information of its employees (or customers) when disposing of IT equipment. Even if it doesn’t, organisations are currently liable to pay up to £300,000 for breaching guidelines. 

Data wiping is big business. It’s a key part of the work we undertake at Canopus Solutions in Halton, Liverpool. Last year I agreed to support an innovative project called Keep IT in Halton, originally the brainchild of Steve Howarth, the BITC Business Connector for the area at the time.

Keep IT in Halton launched with a simple premise: disused computer equipment from businesses would be safely recycled into items which could then be given to community focused groups. My business would handle the goods, service the machines, deliver them where needed and take a fee from the business side.

Charities, including many people in the wider community who are using their services, are finding the transition to make their operations digital a tough one.

And this is also the case in Halton – I wouldn’t have a bad word said about the area, but it has areas of social deprivation where there are significant needs and recycled IT equipment would be useful to many local organisations in the area.

Nightstop Communities Northwest are an organisation who provide emergency accommodation services for homeless young people. They also provide well-being support, mentoring and life skills coaching to help the 16-25 year olds who are trying to get back on their feet. The Community Interest Company (CIC) was looking to expand its services in the area – we were able to provide them with three PCs, donated from a local firm. We removed any sensitive data using the latest security erasure tools – historic emails, financial accounts and networks – in turn, they were able to achieve greater frontline support where it is needed.

My ambitions for Keep IT in Halton are big. One day I’d like to have a big community stock of recycled IT equipment to choose from. Given that my organisation’s umbrella company (J Brand) have indicated that they could absorb the added capacity – from a resource point of view, it’s something which could be scaled up.

I see no reason why there couldn’t be a Keep IT in Birmingham or a Keep IT in Newcastle one day. Even Canopus itself could support as, whilst being a small business, it has a national footprint.

Unfortunately, following a soft launch last spring across Runcorn and Widnes, Keep IT in Halton hasn’t hit the heights. It’s been frustrating as demand is clearly there, and I believe supply is too.

I’ve spoken with Runcorn’s current Business Connector, Matthew Jacobson, who was able to source five useable computers for the Joseph Lappin Centre in Liverpool. The community hub is now in a position to provide IT training, from basic skills to SAGE training resulting in a City & Guilds Level 2 qualification. So, it’s not simply a case of charities using the computers for their own operational issues.

I think the initiative provides clear benefits to local business, and in turn businesses can been seen to make a positive impact where they operate. Meanwhile their comparatively small efforts are helping to deliver a future pipeline of local workers, in an area which has high levels of youth and intergenerational unemployment, whilst being environmentally sustainable.

But the main driver for this needs to come first and foremost from business. So, what are you waiting for?

To find our more about Keep IT in Halton click here

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