Training young people to fix smartphones and escape gang life? In London, a social enterprise is doing just that.
Established in 2015 as a phone-repair pilot in East London, Cracked It is now an award-winning programme that teaches young ex-offenders aged between 16 and 24 and at risk of joining gangs, how to repair cracked smartphone screens, focusing on iPhones.
The mission is to show how enterprise is a credible alternative to gang life, and to show young-at-risk and ex-offenders them that there is a real alternative to a life of crime. It’s not about pure capitalism, but about marketing skills learned on three different iPhone models across a five-day bootcamp.
The course finishes by having the freshly trained students work a stall in London’s popular Spitalfields Market with CrackedIt, where each individual is able to sell their repair services to the public. CrackedIt also employs some of the trainees, with the company providing services to businesses as well, such as attending workplaces with pop-up phone repair clinics to fix broken screens, and even offering team building exercises. After a period of months of employment, Cracked It works to help transition staff into other permanent work in the community.
120 young people have been through Cracked It’s training, with two-thirds of graduates moving into education, training or employment within six months. More than 80 per cent did not reoffend within the same period.
The prison and justice systems of many countries are difficult places for youth. More than 18,000 arrests were made in London in 2017 of people under 18. Eight per cent of prisoners commit another offence within 18 days of release.
CrackedIt has received widespread support from politicians and partnered with corporate entities to provide support, funds, and backing. The Centre for Social Justice named the project Social Enterprise of the Year in 2018, and CrackedIt also won an award from the United States of America Department of State in 2017, among others.
The project was founded by Josh Babarinde, a 24-year-old from Eastbourne in the UK, who studied politics and even campaigned for the Liberal Democrats party in his hometown, before founding Cracked It as a social entrepreneur.