The internet: essential but unavailable to many
Internet access is a lifeline. So many of us use it everyday: to chat to our friends and loved ones, work from home, learn new things, stay informed, book appointments, and access crucial services, and more.
Yet only half of the world is online, with enormous disparities between and within nations and communities. This digital divide amplifies existing inequalities, hurting the most marginal groups such as people living in poverty and those experiencing homelessness, refugees and asylum seekers, other vulnerable groups, and isolated communities.
Although not as stark as in low-income countries, digital exclusion is still a huge problem in countries like the UK, and the country’s most vulnerable bear the brunt of it.
In 2021, as COVID-19 and climate change continues to place unprecedented strain on individuals and systems worldwide, being online has never been more important.
Who we are and how we help
Jangala provides free internet access to vulnerable people in challenging contexts worldwide. The charity was founded by the volunteer team that created a Wi-Fi network to cover the Calais Jungle refugee camp in 2015. This network connected 5,000 refugees a week, as well as organisations providing crucial services including health, legal advice, and education. As news of the network spread, we were overwhelmed with requests worldwide for connectivity.
Image: Rich Thanki, our Managing Director (and one of Jangala's co-founders) building a Wi-Fi network in the Calais Jungle refugee camp.
To scale our ability to respond, Jangala designed and developed Big Box, a simple, rugged and powerful internet delivery device that can use any source of internet to provide simple Wi-Fi that scales from tens to thousands of users. Over the last 3 years, 45 Big Boxes have connected over 30,000 people in clinics, schools, refugee camps and emergency response situations around the world.
Left image: A teacher receives Big Box in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, in partnership with Amala. Right image: Classroom in Afghanistan learns online using Big Box, in partnership with Skateistan.
The pandemic has left many vulnerable households isolated from important public services. In response to this, Jangala has developed Get Box, a smaller lower-cost device that can provide secure and supported internet access to tens of users. Already, our Get Box trials have connected vulnerable health service users, the families of school pupils without home broadband, and adults and children in emergency accommodation.
Image: Group of refugee students receiving their Get Boxes in Athens, in partnership with Amala.
Together, Big Box and Get Box allow Jangala to provide internet access across a huge range of contexts.
Who your money will help
Since turning our focus to the UK in early 2020, we have been providing free internet to:
- Women and children living in a women’s refuge in Essex
- Schoolchildren and their families from low-income households in London
- Trauma patients living in poverty in London
- Refugee activists challenging restrictions on their right to work in Northern Ireland
- A small community in the Orkney Isles after a subsea cable went down over Christmas
- People living in emergency accommodation in Brighton
- People experiencing homelessness in Sussex
Your money will mean we can keep supporting the people who need it most across the country.
UK projects and testimonials
- In time for the start of 2020’s autumn term, we delivered 15 Get Boxes to a London-based school to provide home Wi-Fi for students from low-income households and their families during lockdown. Prior to working with us, the school's headteacher said that the school was 'unable to find a cost effective way to provide Wi-Fi to students.' Of the participating pupils who have had Get Boxes since autumn, all of them agreed that the internet we provided improved their access to information, ability to communicate, and access to education and other services. One pupil said that it was 'really important as there is not much else to do during the pandemic,' and another said: 'It has helped me to stay in touch with my friends during lockdown.'
- In early 2020, we also connected emergency housing in Brighton in partnership with Justlife and Quays Housing. One resident said the following: ‘I have little to no phone signal. This means that having the internet has been crucial for contact and entertainment.’ Justlife’s CEO, Simon Gale, said that the pilot was: ‘an amazing way for them to access support, speak with family and friends and keep entertained.’
- In time for Christmas 2020, Jangala provided Belfast-based human rights charity Participation & Practice Of Rights (PPR) with Get Boxes to connect 14 of their refugee rights activists. PPR's Director, Dessie Donnelly said the following: 'From the outset [of the pandemic], access to technical hardware and internet connectivity was identified as one of the greatest barriers to people accessing public services and maintaining contact with friends and family. The persisting view of internet access as a privilege as opposed to a right means that prohibitive computer, broadband, WiFi and data costs are deepening marginalisation and inequality during the pandemic.'
- During lockdown, we also connected a group of trauma patients to the internet in partnership with the NHS Camden and Islington Trust, and provided them with digital skills training in partnership with AbilityNet. One of the patients who received a Get Box as part of the project said: '[Connectivity is…] extremely important because it [...] stops isolation, and it’s better for mental health to be connected. General entertainment stops you from feeling down.'