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Sourcing second-hand laptops to help Afghan refugees resettle in the community

What we did

Addressing the wider determinants of health, such as housing, employment and education, is a core aim of the Integrated Care System due to their impact on health. The new model of healthcare allows us to look beyond merely treating conditions and gives us the opportunity to work with system partners to look at the root causes of ill health in our local populations. By addressing these wider determinants of health, we can reduce health inequalities and improve overall health outcomes across Coventry and Warwickshire.

In November 2021, Warwickshire County Council worked with housing partners to identify long term accommodation across Warwickshire to resettle over 80 adult and children Afghan refugees that were evacuated to a Warwickshire holding hotel. Whilst this work was undertaken, it became apparent the refugees would benefit from being able to access resources via laptops that would help them settle quicker, such as ESOL courses.

Initially, they requested 20 laptops for use by families in the hotel and as they resettled into homes in Warwickshire. Technology which is usually taken for granted was vital for these families to keep in touch with family overseas, access online courses and ESOL classes, and for children to complete homework.

Each family unit at the hotel was given one laptop initially with larger families given an additional laptop as per their needs (some people had laptops donated by friends or family members or managed to save and buy their own). The scheme was also able to provide a number of laptops to families who arrived after the beginning of the programme in November.

The laptop provision proved extremely valuable for the refugees. It allowed them to engage in personal study, complete university courses and online ESOL lessons (which involve screen sharing and so a larger screen is preferable over a phone screen), watch YouTube videos in English, Dari and Pashto, for the children to be able to watch familiar programmes as a group rather than crowded round a phone, for adults and children to complete homework and for Job Centre commitments to be met through being able to access online meetings.

The difference the laptops made

One refugee who left Afghanistan in the emergency evacuation in August 2021 found the laptop indispensable to his transition and experiences. 

Arriving in the UK with his family, he found the transition very difficult. The upheaval and stress around leaving his country began to take its toll and he suffered from sleeplessness, anxiety and depression. He was able, though, to identify strategies that would help him through this time and one of these was around writing. 

He felt a desire to communicate to the world the complexities of what had happened to his country. He spoke to friends and ex-colleagues scattered around the world and began to collect some of their thoughts and experiences.

However, he needed a resource to be able to begin to compile this. The laptop helped him to begin this project and, while it is still a work in progress, he has sought guidance from publishers about how to bring this together. The work is still ongoing but without the laptop, he would not have been able to start.

He said: “When I arrived at Walton Hall, I did not have anything to perform online tasks such as attending online classes, Job Centre account and above all, I wanted to start writing a book. I received a second-hand laptop from you which has helped me a lot in the mentioned tasks.” 

“Now that I am looking for jobs and have started applying it is really helping me in the process. The laptops have helped a lot of individuals in learning its usage, surfing the internet and many more things which they must do.”