Most of us probably take for granted our ability to access council and other essential services online, yet millions of people in England and Wales still have little or no access to technology.
The elderly, the homeless and refugees are some of the hardest hit.
According to the charity Age UK, 51 per cent of digitally excluded people are aged over 65, while homeless charity C4WS found that 90 per cent of those in shelter don’t have access to IT devices.
I know first-hand the importance of technology. I came to the UK from Bosnia as a lone child refugee in the 1990s and could hardly speak a word of English.
My life changed when I was donated an old computer to support my education and transition into British society. I never looked back, and I went on to learn English, get my A levels and go on to study computing at university.
I set up SocialBox.Biz, a non-profit community interest company, to support the most vulnerable in society through the donation of free laptops and computers.
We work with businesses and councils to upgrade their old, but still usable, technology with open-source software, and redistribute it via our local charity partners.
We do this safely and securely, offering a certificate once the old laptop or computer has been wiped, and have even provided IT classes once they have been donated.
We also offer councils a free assessment to work out what can and can’t be used. Importantly, this does not affect council’s recycling contracts as items can still be sent for recycling after our assessment, and once we’ve removed any usable items.
Upcycling, by reusing and donating to those who cannot afford a computer, is a far more environmentally friendly solution than selling old computers for recycling to scrap companies.
Giving someone a free laptop may not seem like much, but for many people it gives them hope and is an important stepping stone into society.