Around 117,000 people with refugee status are currently living in the UK. On average, those classed as refugees have higher levels of education and training than the rest of the population, but they often end up in low-skilled or exploitative work which hampers future prospects, says Mursal Hedayat from Chatterbox.
Chatterbox is an online and in-person language tutoring service, delivered and developed by refugees and has made it to the finalists selection at the coveted AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards.
The project brings together refugee talent with people and organisations who need people with excellent language skills. They recruit, train, and support talented people, who have become refugees, giving them stimulating work as language tutors, and creating a pathway into even better employment opportunities.
The Tech4Good award crowns those who are using tech skillfully and innovatively to positively effect communities.
Chatterbox has generated hundreds of hours of employment and engaging conversations, numerous friendships, and an abundance of cross-cultural learning. It has grown rapidly since starting up in August 2016 and has recently taken its first big contract with SOAS University of London.
The other three finalists in the competition, which will see winners announced on 11 July at BT centre in London, include miFuture Foundation.
Inspiring a jilted generation with targeted opportunities
Set up in 2011, the foundation is a social enterprise app and website which aims to link the seven Million 16-24 year olds in England and Wales to inspiring career and continued education opportunities.
miFuture founders say they take into account the perspectives and behaviours of young minds today; those who've grown up in a digital world full of short attention and filtered content.
It's using an intuitive system which sends young people ‘personalised‘ opportunities, and offers them easy one-click application processes. It also custom builds CVs.
The enterprise, which is based in South Wales, has already made sure over 2000 16-24 year olds have a CV, and is branching out to other areas of the UK.
Completing the category are Special iApps and Our MK (Milton Keynes). Special iApps started in 2011 when Beverly Dean (pictured below with her son) couldn’t find any educational apps that suited the needs of her youngest son, who has Down's Syndrome. The apps on the market were too distracting and complex for him.
Special apps for children with special educational needs
She worked on creating a series of clean, clear and simple apps for children with special educational needs.
The organisation has now worked with over 50 volunteers to translate content into 20 languages.
Our MK is a website which invites citizens of Milton Keynes to put forward ideas that will impact the community and help shape the future of the area. Hundreds of ideas have been gathered with 13 of these being turned into reality.
Many of the funded projects are tech-based. For example, a cycle path treasure hunt app and another app which promotes breast-feeding-friendly locations.
They’ve also supported a food passport scheme to promote independent food and an advertising scheme for low cost solar panels.
To help them understand the community better and to get people talking to them online, the team has employed Community Mobilisers who support local people to take action within their socially disadvantaged areas.