Laptops Get New Lease on Life This Christmas as Social Enterprise Aims to Connect Disadvantaged Individuals
A London-based social enterprise is on a mission to connect those in need with a tool that could change their lives – a simple laptop computer.
SocialBox.Biz, an innovative tech-focused organization, aims to provide batches of refurbished laptops and other IT equipment to partner charities in December, just in time for Christmas. Through a new initiative, the group hopes to expand its reach by getting more companies, universities and colleges to donate their unused technology.
Since 2014, donated computers have been crucial in bridging the digital divide, giving refugees, homeless individuals and older people without the means to buy their own access to critical technology and communication tools. Groups like Migrant Help UK and Age UK London, C4WS, British Red Cross and The Passage, which provide food, shelter and other basics, use the laptops to help their clients find jobs or education. The effort also prevents e-waste from discarded electronics.
The laptops have already made a difference for many. Yordanos, a refugee from Eritrea known as DJ Yordi, used his device to navigate his music career. Sebastian, once homeless, secured work and training with his computer’s help. Yuliia arrived in Britain with her two sons under the Homes for Ukraine program, fleeing war, and needed a laptop to study English and aid other refugees; her children are also using it to boost their language skills.
“We are the only Community Interest Company that repurposes old but functional tech from companies, universities, and other large organisations, placing them in the hands of disadvantaged individuals in local UK communities. We offer on-site data removal services and load the technology with open-source software, solving common IT challenges for organisations while creating social impact for our clients. ” said Carolyn Williams, a spokesperson for SocialBox.Biz. “We’ve made significant strides, but with more partners, we can accomplish even more.”
Peter Paduh, the founder and chairman, knows firsthand the transformative effect of receiving a computer. A former Bosnian refugee, he said, “My life transformed when I received an old computer to support my education and integration into British society. A simple laptop opened up a whole new world where I could apply for jobs, conduct research, and work towards my goals. Without a laptop, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have. Donating usable laptops and other tech can provide a lifeline for refugees and other disadvantaged individuals striving to rebuild their lives.”
Emily Rycroft‐Huddart, a manager at the homelessness charity The Passage, echoed this sentiment. “SocialBox’s kind donations have had a profound impact on the people we support by bridging the digital divide for vulnerable individuals, including refugees and people experiencing homelessness, providing them essential tools for education, employment, and communication.” she said.
As part of a new initiative, SocialBox.Biz has also begun a scholarship program to fund IT training for refugees and the homeless, made possible by recent laptop donations from universities like Imperial College London. “We believe technology can empower communities,” said Mylene Cannon, a manager at Imperial.
This Christmas, SocialBox.Biz is urging more companies and institutions to look into donating unused devices. “With more partners, we can accomplish even more,” said Ms. Williams.