2020 has made us all realise just how much time we spend online. But what happens if you don’t have a device or data?
Most of us take it for granted – just something that makes life easier. No Netflix? Okay, maybe I’ll be more productive. No online food shopping? Well, I’ll just go to the shops myself. But Lockdown 1 proved that theory wrong. Very wrong. It doesn’t just make life easier, in some situations it can mean the difference between keeping your home or not.
We’ve supported local charity, the Brett Foundation for the last couple of years. So, it was one of our first thoughts when Lockdown 1 hit. Sue Brett started offering food supplies to the homeless in Maidenhead from the boot of her car in 2011. By 2014 she had established the Brett Foundation, supporting disadvantaged people in the area. Her aim was to eradicate loneliness, ensure no one goes to bed hungry, and to support families with the essentials. Sue collaborates with Social Services and other local organisations, all with the help of just 20 volunteers.
Back in the summer we delivered 10 tablets, loaded with data, for Sue to get to children trying to learn at home through lockdown. What we didn’t realise is that it meant far more.
In Sue’s own words, the tablets have been life changing. “The children have been able to keep up with school learning. Self-esteem has increased because they’ve been able to chat with friends. That’s not just the children either, but their parents too. Life hasn’t been as lonely as it might have been.”
Getting these families online has also helped them keep their homes. Sue explains, “You used to be able to pay rent in cash at the town hall, but Coronavirus stopped that. This meant if you didn’t have a way of paying online, you couldn’t pay your rent”. Sue and her volunteers supported families with setting up online banking with their new tablets, so they could make rent. Sue adds, “When you’re living hand to mouth, if you can’t pay your rent or energy bills when they’re due, it can mean you spend that money on other things, like food. Then, when the next bill comes you can’t pay. These tablets have helped keep people in their homes.”
Being connected isn’t something just to enjoy for entertainment, it’s vital to how we live our lives.
Coronavirus has meant the support the Brett Foundation offers to local families and homeless people is more important than ever before. If you would like to help during these difficult times, you can contact the Brett Foundation via their Facebook page. Alternatively find a food bank that’s close to you to make a donation. It’s usually a good idea to check what they’re short of first.
Of course, once you’re online there are lots of things to consider. Keeping safe and secure is really important, whether you’re an adult or a child. Check out all you need to know on our Internet Matters page.