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Is your legacy tech gathering dust?

Digital devices are vital in modern society. If you want to apply for a job, book a GP appointment, or take a training course, you need a computer to do it. Digital skills are also vital for employment; 82 per cent of jobs in the UK now involve a computer, according to the Digital Poverty Alliance. Yet the Office for National Statistics has found that around 5m people have no access to the internet in the UK today.

As a technology company, we want to do our bit to help bridge the digital divide. When Tansy Sheehy, who heads up our CSR activities, told me that she’d found an amazing organisation that wanted to give new life to our legacy computers and tablet devices, I was intrigued. “As a business, we are passionate about supporting our community and giving to charity,” she said. “But this social enterprise is unique. It does so much more than recycling old tech.”

2econd Chance takes away old laptops, tablets and computers from schools and companies, and teaches people who aren’t in education, work, or training (NEETs) to refurbish those machines. It then donates a quarter of those machines to those in need, selling the rest at affordable prices to fund the purchase of spare parts. It’s a brilliant initiative that removes e-waste that could otherwise end up in landfill, provides training that acts as a stepping stone to employment, while also giving digital access to the people that need it most.

The startup organisation 2econd Chance was launched by founders Nigel Canin and Adam Goodman. “Adam turned 41 this year but, because of his learning difficulties and disability, has never been able to get a job before creating this company,’ 2econd Chance’s Charlotte Solomon tells me. “Like many others, this organisation

not only helped him learn new skills, but it’s also given him purpose, which is something we all need.”

Now, Adam helps to train 40 adults each week. From January, students coming through the programme will receive a qualification, accredited by the British Computer Society, to help them find a job. “They learn everything from how to replace hard drives and RAMs to issuing certification to prove that laptops have been securely wiped,” says Charlotte.

To date, the London-based social enterprise has received more than 4,000 computers but it has a long waiting list. This is where BigChange comes in. We recently donated more than 230 tablets to 2econd Chance and made sure that we provided chargers for all of them. "These will go a long way to helping us do our work," says Charlotte.

“They do offer to wipe them but because of our security policies, we prefer to do that ourselves,” says Tansy. “It took about an hour to clean each hard drive, so it was a big effort but one that was well worth it.” Huge thanks to Naomi Ralph who had devices wiping on her desk all day every day. We are in conversations about providing 2econd Chance with legacy laptops now too.

“We have started reaching out to bigger companies because we need their donations,” says Charlotte. “We’re growing slowly and sustainably but we just want to help as many people as possible.”

Do you have any working laptops in your organisation that are six to eight years old, that you’re not using? Why have them laying around gathering dust when someone could be building a better life with that device? Start a conversation with 2econd Chance and give your old tech a new life, building a more sustainable and inclusive future while you’re at it.

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