When the pandemic hit, it became clear just how much we rely on technology to maintain a sense of normality. With students up and down the country using their laptops to access education, through to small businesses being forced into the digital age to stay afloat, to new apps enabling us to stay in touch with family and friends, technology has been paramount to our productivity and wellbeing.
However, not everyone has access to the right tools. According to data from the Good Things Foundation, 7million people in the UK have no internet access at home.
As a business, we have had to think differently about how we deliver social value throughout the pandemic. Building Lives Through Tech is an initiative we worked on in 2020, which enables us to continue supporting our communities and work towards tackling digital poverty.
Building Lives Through Tech sees us collaborate across the business to donate recycled IT equipment to groups most in need, via schools, social enterprises, community interest companies, charities or other organisations.
The focus was initially on donating laptops to those who need it the most (to learn, apply for jobs, maintain contact etc.) but our aim is to turn Building Lives Through Tech into a structured programme that helps social enterprises and community groups to develop and directly impact those they support. This includes working with groups on grant applications, account management, careers support and any other expertise we can provide to help them help others.
The pilot for Building Lives Through Tech took place in early 2020. We worked with the Midlands-based social enterprise, Helping Kids Achieve, where we donated 30 laptops so young people could take part in online courses. The social enterprise has since been loaning out these laptops during the pandemic to children with no access to a computer, allowing them to keep up with school and homework.
Going forward, all recycled Willmott Dixon laptops will be donated through our scheme, which has the potential to provide 400 laptops a year to disadvantaged communities.