Can digital offer sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers? - the role of technology in the lives of people migrating to our city?

1st May 2019, 10:00am

Co>Space North, Leeds
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People seeking refuge and asylum in our city face many challenges, of which technology can be a help and a hindrance. This event focuses on the role of technology in the lives of refugees and asylum seekers alongside consideration of issues of digital exclusion.

Dr Glenda Garelli, lecturer in human geography at the University of Leeds will share insights into the research she has undertaken in this field. Ian McArdle, Digital Inclusion Coordinator for Leeds Libraries will speak about how the council is helping people access digital technologies and promote digital inclusion via the 100% Digital Leeds Initiative that was recently showcased in an ITV documentary.
Ben McKenna, chief executive of Bradford based Solidaritech will explain how his organisation, which repurposes old laptops and digital devices to pass on toe asylum seekers and refugees, is making a real difference to people’s lives.
Jon Beech, director of Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network will share
insights into the day to day use of tech by various migrants in Leeds - the ups and downs of relying on tech when you are living in poverty in a country where it’s unlawful for you to have a phone on contract and you don’t speak the language.
This event will be of interest to anyone working with refugees and asylum seekers who is interested in the role of digital technologies. It is also relevant to civic minded digital innovators who are interested in this topic area.

Our speakers:

Jon Beech is the Director of, organises comms and work on health for, and Chairs in his spare time. Before moving to LASSN, Jon worked for a variety of mental health and housing organisations (focusing on the mental health of BME groups and people who have migrated to the UK) as well as a doing a short stint as local authority homeless officer. He has a particular interest in how information is created, distributed and controlled, and the uses of technology which include, alienate, and inspire action in the physical world. 

Glenda Garelli is lecturer in human geography at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on migration, borders, and digital humanitarianism. 

Ben is a technologist, designer and developer. He formed Solidaritech in 2017 to address the growing digital divide. Solidaritech refurbish donated laptops, tablets, phones and desktops, gifting them to beneficiaries from the Asylum Seeker and Refugee community so they can convert their previous qualifications, pursue new one, progress their case, find work and take an active role in society. With over 20 years experience in working with technology Ben has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, but his real passion is studying the sociological, behavioural and political impacts that technology has on the world.

Co>Space North, Platform (Floor 5), New Station Street, Leeds, LS1 4JB, U.K.

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