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Former refugee urges firms to donate unused laptops to support vulnerable

A social enterprise founded by a former refugee has called on UK businesses to urgently donate old unused laptops to support the elderly, homeless and refugees.

While most of us are able to stay connected online with friends and family during COVID-19, large numbers are experiencing high levels of isolation from society.

According to Age UK, 51% of digitally excluded people are over the age of 65, while a study by New Horizon Youth Centre found that at least 78% of their homeless clients have no access to laptops or tablets, or consistent internet access.

SocialBox.Biz, which supports vulnerable people through self-isolation by providing free laptops and tablets, says that the demand from charities for IT equipment has reached an all-time high. The organisation works with charities to ensure the laptops are reaching people who need them to access vital services, contact loved ones, buy essential items, and access online activities that reduce loneliness.

The social enterprise was founded by Peter Paduh, who came to the UK as a teenage refugee from the war-torn Balkans in the 1990s. Paduh attributes some of his success as an entrepreneur to the computer he was given soon after being placed in foster care.

Peter Paduh said:

With the country under lockdown, many people who previously relied on human contact are now left isolated. From older people in care homes and in isolation to refugees, hundreds of thousands are in need. Our initiative provides computers to empower vulnerable disadvantaged people to gain access to the internet, to enable and to promote the principle of self-determination via the access to internet.”

The social enterprise has also called on businesses to consider changing their procurement policy to help reduce digital exclusion. SocialBox.Biz estimates that a 3-7% shift in procurement policies towards local social impact can reduce digital exclusion by one third.

As well as partnering charities such as Age UK London and the Refugee Support Network, the initiative has been backed by a number of business leaders too, including Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General, and Richard Morris, UK CEO of Regus.

Nigel Wilson said:

I believe that business is more than just profit; it’s also about impact. Therefore, we are thrilled to be doing something meaningful with our old, no-longer-needed, but still useful infrastructure. It’s no secret we have a homeless problem here in Britain today. All we need to do is exhibit some compassion as a society.

For more information, please email info@SocialBox.Biz or telephone 0843 289 5722.

 

Photo by SocialBox.Biz

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