As Refugee Week 2021 draws to a close, SocialBox.Biz, the UK-based social enterprise that rehomes unwanted tech for those in need, is appealing for support from businesses. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Refugee Week is a week-long celebration of refugees’ contributions, creativity, resilience and courage. This has been at the core of SocialBox.Biz’s mission to improve the lives of refugees by providing them with access to upgraded laptops with open source software.
By donating old and unused devices on an ongoing basis, businesses and organisations can help bridge the digital divide and provide access to technology and communication to those who most need it. SocialBox.Biz has been providing rehomed laptops and other tech devices to organisations and individuals working with refugees, homeless people, and older people who cannot afford computers since 2014.
SocialBox.Biz Social Impact spokesperson, Carolyn Williams said: “We are the only Community Interest Company re-homing old but usable tech from companies, universities, and other large organisations and placing them in the hands of the disadvantaged in local UK communities in this way. We provide on-site data removal service and load the technology with open-source software, solving common problems for IT teams and social impact problems for our clients. We’ve done a lot, but we will do a lot more with the help of more partners.”
Peter Paduh, founder and chairman of SocialBox.Biz and former child refugee, commented on the importance of donated technology: “My life changed when I was donated an old computer to support my education and transition into British society. A simple laptop opened up a whole new world for me, one where I could integrate into society by applying for jobs, and researching people and places to help me reach my goals. Without a laptop, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I’ve done, and as we mark Refugee Week, it’s important to remember that refugees are people just like us who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution. By donating usable laptops and other tech, you can help provide a lifeline for refugees and other disadvantaged people who are trying to rebuild their lives.”
Purpose-driven UK communications agency Ethical Team is one such company that has provided desktop computers, monitors and a printer to SocialBox.Biz. Iain Patton, Managing Director and Founder, said: “As a business, we try and ‘walk the talk’, and recycling isn’t always the best option. Much equipment can be repurposed, and I am sure if more companies and organisations were aware of SocialBox.Biz, they would support this initiative. If UK plc is to reduce its considerable carbon footprint, it needs to produce far less electrical waste. British businesses are harbouring a vast amount of computers, screens, phones, printers, scanners, photocopiers that could all help the disadvantaged people.”
To date, SocialBox.Biz has repurposed thousands of machines and hopes to reach up to 1000 per month in the near future. Reusing rather than recycling produces social impact and reduces scope 3 emissions, and where possible should be prioritised before recycling and disposal by donating to local re-use organisations.