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The Passage Homelessness Charity partner with SocialBox.Biz to tackle digital exclusion and transform houses into homes

The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact on the job market, affecting a large number of people previously supported into work in the hospitality sector by homelessness charity, The Passage. Many of the charity’s clients have suffered job losses and others have been placed on furlough, leaving their futures unstable; a massive blow so soon after taking the first steps towards rebuilding their lives. As well as continuing to adapt services to support existing clients through this incredibly challenging period, the charity also expects to see a sharp rise in the number of new people experiencing homelessness as the ban on evictions is lifted and job losses continue in the coming weeks.

Working together with the social enterprise SocialBox.Biz, the charity has been helping clients to stay motivated since the start of lockdown; providing laptops, mobiles and tablets to those who were identified as otherwise having no access to electronic devices. This initiative has enabled clients to stay connected with their Passage case workers, carry out online training, keep in touch with their previous employers and apply for new job roles. The devices have also helped to prevent social isolation, improved living conditions for clients, and during a period where the entire nation was increasingly reliant on technology, ensured that they were not at risk of being excluded from employment and training opportunities or social activities.

SocialBox.Biz are a social enterprise who have been supporting The Passage with donations of free laptops since 2016, providing over 100 laptops and tablets during this period. The organisation initially joined forces with the charity to combat digital exclusion in the homelessness sector. SocialBox.Biz play a huge role in improving the quality of life of hundreds of our clients, by transforming houses into homes, through the introduction of electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones that so many of us take for granted.

Peter Paduh, the founder of SocialBox.Biz said: “The lockdown has really highlighted the inequalities we face as a country. While many of us take for granted the homes in which we live and the technology to keep us connected, many people in society do not have access to such luxuries, including the homeless.

“My first break coming to the UK as a refugee was receiving a free computer, which inspired me to later launch Social Box. It’s great that I can work with charities like The Passage, but the demand is so high right now, and we need more companies to step up and support these initiatives by providing their old laptops and tablets.

Below are three stories from recently homeless clients who have been helped by SocialBox.Biz during lockdown:

Ana

Passage client Ana was recovering from a mental health condition and the effects of social isolation when she was put in touch with our Hotel School employment project (run in collaboration with The Goring Hotel) as a way of rebuilding her confidence. This hospitality programme helped her to integrate with other students and left her feeling optimistic for the future. Being a fantastic home baker, she started some work experience in a small bakery who was about to offer her a part-time position. However the week before she was supposed to start her exciting new role, the bakery had to close for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus outbreak. This decision had a profound impact on Ana, leading her to believe that baking was not meant to be – it was incredibly sad to see her outlook completely change.

Luckily since receiving a laptop from SocialBox.Biz, Ana is slowly starting to feel more positive, as it has enabled her to start a level 3 food safety and hygiene certificate which will be essential for when she starts applying for jobs again. 

David

David had been recovering from a tough time following a mental health diagnosis when he first arrived at The Passage. Although his confidence and motivation levels were low, he knew that he wanted to work again, as a chef. Following support and training at The Passage, David’s aspirations came true and he secured a weekend chef role last year, which had an incredibly positive impact on his self-esteem. Prior to lockdown, he had stepped into a full-time role but as soon as the pandemic unfolded in March, he lost his job completely, leaving him feeling demotivated and hard done by. David did not have a laptop or PC of his own so the process of looking for work, whilst the nation was in full lockdown, was going to be a challenge. However, thanks to Social Box, The Passage was able to quickly rectify this. He is now feeling more optimistic and has started online training with Open Learn, while continuing to search for employment online.

Kacey

Over the years, Kacey has faced struggles with her mental health and very low confidence. After being referred to The Passage, she successfully enrolled onto our Hotel School programme, and developed a love of coffee during the barista training sessions. Upon completing the scheme, her talent and commitment earnt her a job as a barista, her first job in 8 years! She had been employed there for 18 months, but when the coronavirus outbreak hit, she was placed on furlough and is now at risk of losing her job. Kacey did not have a computer at home and her smartphone was not fit for purpose. She wanted to utilise the time during lockdown to do some further training and upskill, search and apply for new jobs and attend ‘virtual’ interviews if required. Thanks to SocialBox.Biz, she received a laptop which has enabled her to do all of this and she is now enrolled on an Open University course and has started updating her CV. She has also been getting to grips with Zoom, using the platform to meet with Passage workers and provide updates. The ability to stay connected and remain focused has meant the world of difference, however the weeks ahead will be challenging.

If you are an organisation or individual looking to donate electronic devices to The Passage, please contact [email protected] or call 020 7592 1856, we would be extremely grateful to hear from you. Alternatively you can make a donation to our House our Homeless appeal, which funds move in costs and essential devices and furniture for homeless people moving into accommodation.

Notes to editor:

Please contact [email protected] or call 020 7592 1856 for more information.