British global fashion chain New Look has donated more than 1,000 laptops and computers, as part of a scheme to help some of the most vulnerable in society.
The laptops, computers and other tech items, such as smartphones, have been delivered to several UK charities before Christmas, including The Passage, C4WS and Migrant Help.
The donations are part of a wider project run by social enterprise SocialBox.Biz, founded by former child refugee Peter Paduh, to help tackle digital exclusion among the homeless, refugees and the elderly.
The scheme distributes old unused technology to support refugees and the homeless get back on their feet through things like education and eventually move into permanent accommodation and employment. It also played a crucial role during the pandemic, working with charities such as Age UK to support the elderly to stay connected with loved ones, and order shopping and medication online.
Peter Paduh, 43, chairman and founder of SocialBox.Biz, said: “It is great to see large companies like New Look leading by example to help bridge the digital divide in the UK.
“At more than 1,000 items, this is the largest donation we have ever received. I can’t underestimate what difference donations like this will make to the millions of people who don’t have access to technology and the internet.”
Sue Fairley, head of sustainability at New Look, said: “Donating our old laptops to SocialBox.Biz made complete sense for New Look. It allowed us to reuse our unused laptops in a secure way, whilst supporting a social cause and our commitment to circularity.”
Mohammed, a client of charity The Passage who received one of the laptops, said that the donation would allow him to look for online courses and find voluntary work to help rebuild his confidence.
Mohammed commented: “I am currently seeking asylum in the UK after experiencing extremely traumatic events in my home country, which have led to me suffering from PTSD. I am waiting for my UK status from the Home Office and can now start planning my future here, using the laptop you have given to me. I am so thankful for this, and all of the support I am receiving from The Passage. I feel hopeful for the future again.”
As more companies move to a hybrid model of working, the social enterprise hopes to see more organisations move to an ‘upcycling’ business model, where technology can be reused rather than the old practice of selling it for scrap metal. SocialBox.Biz has been campaigning for businesses to end this practice, which it claims adds to our carbon footprint when the scrap is shipped around the world, rather than redistributed in the UK.
The social enterprise recently launched its ‘business heroes’ scheme, which aims to recruit 100 business partners to help tackle digital inequality over the next couple of years. Previous donors include Legal & General, Aviva, the CBI and the Mayor of London.
Peter added: “The pandemic highlighted the importance of ensuring that the most vulnerable in society can access technology to get by. We are looking to recruit 100 business heroes over the next couple of years to address this and we urge others to follow New Look’s lead.”
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