My name is Kate Williams, Programme and Media Coordinator for Plymouth Hope, a charity who promotes social inclusion for asylum seeking families through sports, physical activities and homework support who may otherwise be socially excluded.
Your support is needed to help raise funds for an extraordinary partnership project which provides access to the internet for over 300 vulnerable and isolated asylum seekers residing in Plymouth.
We realised how disproportionately and profoundly lockdown isolation was affecting Refugees and Asylum Seekers. This project benefits people housed in NASS (National Asylum Support Service) Accommodation in Plymouth. As a result, by providing WiFi hubs in each house reaching over 300 asylum seekers living in Plymouth.
The Plymouth Connectivity Project Team consists of Plymouth Hope, Devon and Cornwall Refugee Services (DCRS), ODILs Learning Foundation and Plymouth City Council. With the further tightening of restrictions once again many refugees and asylum seekers will face digital inequality in accessing online support, education, health, and staying connected to friends, family and the supporting network.
It had become known to DCRS that refugees and asylum seekers were prioritising data over essentials such as food due to lockdown. It was found that asylum seekers who cannot get a mobile phone contract were spending up to £40 on pay-as-you-go data in order to stay connected to friends and family, keep up-to-date with the news, access online support and education. Asylum seekers are not allowed to take on paid employment and are restricted to living off of support that is currently approximately £37 per week. Simply put, people were choosing to go hungry rather than be disconnected. As most of the NASS accommodation is shared with multiple occupants, the Plymouth Connectivity Project set about finding suitable WiFi options for households to share. Unlimited data sim cards at a cost of £33 per month per sim card on a rolling monthly basis, with the dongle devices supplied by Vodafone.
The outcomes of this project included:
- Getting community members online with little or no barriers
- Reducing isolation
- Increasing communication with friends and family
- Community Networking
- Access to education for children as well as adults (such as ESOL)
- Access to online projects and programmes by all organisations in Plymouth and surrounding areas.
- Better financial management for beneficiaries
The project supports families, young people, men and women in accessing online programmes to increase social inclusion, increasing physical activity and supporting mental health. In addition, giving greater access to the partnering organisations to their service users due to online delivery. Student and Refugees Together (START), Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council (PlymouthREC), DCRS and Plymouth Hope are still providing services and support online due to government guidelines. All these organisations and others not mentioned contribute to the lives of the refugee and asylum seeker population of Plymouth; these organisations and their service users rely on being able to communicate and connect with one another.
Furthermore, a small proportion of our service users have enrolled with ODILS and Plymouth City College courses. I was asked by a young lady in her late 20s living in a shared house, “how am I going to access my college course without Wifi or data? Some of my course is taught online.”
What will the WIFI hubs be used for?
Contacting to family and friends
Social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc
The digital barrier had been reduced! However, with another lockdown and the uncertainty for how long restrictions could be imposed, refugees and asylum seekers face isolation once again.
To provide unlimited data hubs in NASS houses in Plymouth for the next 6 months equates to £16,500.
We are looking to cover the cost for the next 2 months at £5214.
We need your help!
£33 pays for 1 WIFI hub for 1 month
£6.60 pays for 1 WIFI hub for 1 week
Please pledge what you can