Laptop’s second life proves to be a second chance - Blog

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Thursday 30th January 2020

“At a late age I found myself homeless. I was homeless for 15 years.”

A shocking statement for many people but a tough reality for Ann, a member of Thames Reach’s Step-Up project.

The Step-Up project is a free support service helping low paid Londoners progress into better paid work.

Dominika Milowka, Digital Skills Support Worker at Step-Up, explains further:

“Our goal is to identify problems that might be preventing people from progressing. These may range from simply looking presentable for interviews and accessing computers to create their CVs, to bigger mental health issues.”

Like many Londoners, Ann spent over a decade sleeping on sofas, unable to get a place of her own, despite working.

Since contacting Thames Reach, she now lives independently and is enrolled in two courses; namely, a Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Business Administration (NCFE) and a Level 2 Information, Advice and Guidance. She also works part-time and volunteers with the charity’s Information, Advice and Guidance service.

Her determination and energy are a true inspiration.

When her laptop stopped working over a year ago, Ann was left trying to pursue her studies through public computers as she could not afford to buy a new one.

“I spend most of my days going from one area to the next using public computers and internet. It takes me so long to get assignments done and although it’s tiring, it won’t stop me from moving forward,” explains Ann.

As the first waste and recycling company in London to become accredited by the ‘Living Wage Foundation’, we knew we wanted to help Ann and aid in her journey.

Dominika and Ann share a laugh in front of Thames Reach's Employment Academy

In collaboration with Thames Reach, Paper Round has now donated one of our refurbished laptops, in the hope that it will help Ann’s quality of life.

Ann’s story showcases what could happen if people recycled electronics responsibly. With electronic waste being one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, seeing around 50 million tonnes produced every year and predicted to double by 2050, it is important to consider the alternative outcomes from small changes when disposing of electronics.

According to the UN Environment Programme, up to 90% of the world’s electronic waste, worth nearly £12bn, is illegally traded or dumped in developing countries each year. This results in significant environmental and social impacts, including open burning to recover rare metals from the devices, through to children being used to scavenge old IT equipment.

However, if done right, recycling of old devices could do a great deal of good. For Ann, a laptop is not just a commonplace object sat in a corner at home, it is a great luxury. It’s an outcome that wouldn’t have been possible without a small but important change.

 “I have an opportunity to change my life. This laptop is going to help me do that!” - Ann


Thames Reach is a charity based in London, supporting people facing homelessness through prevention, intervention and recovery. The charity specialises in helping people with complex and multiple needs, including those associated with poor mental health and substance misuse. It manages a range of services, including street outreach, frontline hostels, day services, specialist supported housing and employment and skills schemes. Thames Reach’s mission is to assist homeless and vulnerable men and women to find decent homes, build supportive relationships and lead fulfilling lives. thamesreach.org.uk

Lorella Fava

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