London-based smartphone repair company Cracked It goes a step further than repairing broken smartphone screens – it’s also creating opportunities for at-risk youth to thrive.
Cracked It runs pop-up repair services in large workplaces where cracked screens can be mended at people’s desks, saving them from trekking to the high street or having to send their smartphone away for repair.
The social enterprise – staffed mostly by 16-24-year-olds who are not in education or employment, at risk of offending, or ex-offenders – aims to provide a legitimate means for young people to gain access to employment.
Many young people feel pushed into crime to provide for their families, and that crime can often be violent. Knife crime offences resulting in injury have increased by 22% in the last year, and 85% of violent offenders are aged between 16 and 29. These young people are four-times more likely to be victims of crime.
The multi-award winning social enterprise began as a small initiative in an east London youth centre, where founder and CEO Josh Babarinde piloted a phone-repair programme. The project aimed to provide young people with new skills, boost their confidence, and provide them with a way to make money, other than through joining gangs.
Josh Babarinde chose phone repairs in particular because it is a quick skill to learn, and technology appeals to young people.
He said: “Many young people are leaving school without the skills they need for employment and (so they turn to) crime – whether it’s nicking bikes or dealing drugs and maybe using weapons in the course of that activity to protect themselves. That’s a key reason why we are seeing knife crime rise.
“Trapped young people need credible options and a way out. Employment is the single most effective factor in preventing and reducing offending. Good employment gives people choices.
“Our mission is to use smartphone repair to create opportunities for at-risk youth to break down their attitudinal barriers to employment – to realise that income, belonging and self-worth gained through legitimate work.”
Cracked It also runs a five-day phone repair bootcamp for young people. The course helps support young people towards employment by “combating attitudinal barriers to work” – (re)engaging them with the formal economy through demonstrating that work can be a credible outlet for their aspirations and needs, and through getting them to use the skills they acquire in a real-world context.
Around 64% of young people who have attended the bootcamp were in education, employment or training 6 months after graduating. And 80% of young ex-offenders did not reoffend within 6 months of graduating.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea