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Spreading love to our neighbours through computers

2 August 2021

Supporting home-learning students with pre-loved computers

As Sydney continues to grapple with the challenges brought by COVID-19, members of our University have been quietly helping the most vulnerable in our neighbouring community at the Glebe.

Michael Coleman from the Glebe Youth Service holding a computer that was donated

Michael Coleman, Glebe Youth Service, accepting a donated computer.

Behind every feel-good story is the combined effort of those with the kindest hearts and their unwavering willingness to take action.

Situated next to the University’s Camperdown campus, our neighbouring suburb Glebe was impacted by the lockdown restrictions of COVID-19. One of the major issues was the lack of technology to support home learning for local members of the community.

With children and teenagers transitioning to online education, the inability to access computers and internet-related services was having a detrimental in their pursuit of learning.

It's been difficult to learn from home. The laptop allows me to do my school work online, get in touch with my teachers by email, and is so much easier than hand-writing my work.
Year 11 student

Turn of events

Around the onset of COVID-19, University of Sydney alumna Dr Vanessa Witton heard through The Glebe Society that Keiran Kevans, coordinator of the Glebe Youth Service, was appealing for computer donations as many teenagers in Glebe needed them to do their schooling at home. 

Vanessa mentioned this to her partner Peter Adams, who is the Software and Assets officer at the University of Sydney School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry. He recognised that some pre-loved computers could be donated to the cause.

After receiving approval from his supervisors to make the donation, Peter then contacted Dr Cate Massola, from the Neighbourhood Research Hub in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work to coordinate the distribution of the donations.

Supporting the local community

To date, the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry has donated 25 computers and 2 printers to Glebe students in need.

The overwhelmingly positive feedback from the recipients of these donations, and the resultant improvement in their wellbeing and confidence, has proved the value of re-gifting University assets to vulnerable people in our local community.

We continue to pass on refurbished computers so that those who are without may continue their studies and access internet-related services - now a necessity for everyone.

A letter saying 'Thank you so much for your wonderful giving. We are so grateful to receive the computers'

One City of Sydney community worker said, “Having a computer at home has helped them the residents I work with to connect with us and check in on a weekly zoom catch up. I can’t believe the turn-around in the short amount of time I have seen with these young women, they have gone from not very interested in talking about school to telling us what they are learning about, reading their poetry out, talking about literature about black civil rights and consistently doing their fitness training with me. Thanks so much to Sydney University for helping out these young women it has definitely helped them develop in the time of Covid.”

I can’t believe the turn-around in the short amount of time I have seen with these young women.
City of Sydney community worker

An all community effort

This achievement would not have been possible without the combined effort of our University and local communities. Through working with local organisations such as the Glebe Youth Service, Mission Australia, The Glebe Computer Project, The Aboriginal Cultural Space Working Group and City of Sydney, the value of resharing and community service is once again highlighted.


About the Neighbourhood Research Hub

The Neighbourhood Research Hub is located at Glebe Town Hall. Part of the School of Education and Social Work, the hub works in partnership with the University’s neighbourhood to support local individuals and groups to build community capacity, co-design research and utilise its outcomes for the benefit of the community.


Banner image: Photo by Tyler Nix from Unsplash

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