#MobileForGood: Why Charities Should Make Digital Inclusion A Priority Right Now

At GoodCall, we believe in putting mobile technology in the hands of those who need it most. There are thousands of hidden digitally excluded people within our communities. The reality of the digital divide has become even more apparent during the coronavirus crisis – around one in ten adults in the UK have no regular access to the internet, according to the Office for National Statistics. They have no access to technology or lack digital skills – which can block them from accessing and engaging with vital support online. It is more critical than ever to acknowledge those left behind – and to work to do something about it. In this article we explore  why charities should make digital inclusion a priority right now.

While using a smartphone or tablet is a skill many of us take for granted, it is important to remember that these skills are not shared by everyone. Many essential services for day-to-day living in the UK now require access to the internet. This can include access to safe housing, payments, benefits, shopping for necessities and even access to healthcare. Without digital skills, or the opportunities to acquire them, many people are essentially cut off from the basic services they need to live.

Charities and social enterprises are at the forefront of supporting some of the most vulnerable individuals in society. The sector paves the way for social change and brings light to issues faced by communities around the world. Older people, those experiencing homelessness, disability or poverty as well as young carers often face compound barriers to accessing technology. Many charities have worked hard to provide their services online/virtually, this has also exposed barriers that traditionally technologically excluded demographics, such as older people, may face in getting online. We have to remember that some people may need additional support to get online or actually use these new provisions.

It’s amazing to see organisations rising to this challenge. One great example of this is Age UK who have published lots of great information online to support older people during this time. They have published a series of free tech guides to help older people understand online safety and how to stay in touch with friends and family via video calling.

Another great example is Beam. Beam is a new non-profit crowdfunding platform and app that uses technology to help transition rough sleepers into work. Beam have recently been highlighted  for its campaigns to challenge digital exclusion. There are acute issues facing homeless people currently, including the changes to cash payments when many shops are now only accepting contactless card payments. They operate on a 100% impact model and individuals can be referred by established homeless charities to fund everything from food, housing, and career training with immediate impact through their mobile. All donations are shared by all Beam members and the online network can be accessed by phone, and you can support specific individuals in their time of need. Beam breaks down barriers that prevent people from directly helping the homeless both in the practical sense (ease and convenience of donation) in knowing that their money is being directly invested in the wellbeing of homeless individuals.

At this time, it’s more vital than ever to consider those who are digitally excluded in our communities. Charities and social enterprises lead the way in bringing awareness to those who need support most – let’s make sure that everyone has the opportunity to engage with the services they need at this challenging time.

At GoodCall we can support your charity with technology to help you connect with your service users and supporters. Get in touch with us now via our contact form or call Elaine on 07535 396 882

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