Empowering homeless people with free laptops

A new scheme aims to improve the lives of homeless people while making use of old laptops

Each year, around two million working laptops and computers are thrown away in the UK. At the same time, some six million British citizens, or 12 per cent of the country’s adult population, have never used the internet.

One new scheme aims to bridge this gap, starting with people experiencing homelessness in the London borough of Camden. Laptops for the Homeless, set up by charity Thames Reach and recycling social enterprise Socialbox.biz, works with businesses to collect and refurbish used laptops. They are then handed out to homeless men and women in the capital, who will also receive IT training.

“Society is becoming ever more dependent on computerised technologies, but thousands of people are still without access to this vital resource,” said Peter Paduh, chairman of SocialBox.biz, who hopes to run the scheme on an ongoing basis.

An estimated 35 per cent of jobs in the UK are at risk of automation over the next 20 years, making digital skills even more vital. Jeremy Swain, chief executive of Thames Reach, said: “These computers will give people the opportunity to communicate with friends and relatives, develop new interests and improve their skills and employment prospects.”

Photo: Reuters/Rafael Marchante