Covid-19 has starkly illuminated the issue of digital poverty. While the world has moved online, people who were already poor have been left behind. In order to connect with friends and family, access online advice, attend virtual support groups and help home-school children in lockdown, you need tech – and the skills to use it. Many of our vulnerable refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant clients have neither.
We have been talking to our clients about what they need and are now fundraising to provide digital equipment, data and internet access for those who don’t have it and can’t afford it. We want to be able to buy affordable smart phones, laptops, tablets and mobile data packages so that people can stay connected, support their children, keep up to date with work and studies, and keep in touch with the people they miss – just like the rest of us. Money raised will also go towards the cost of teaching people remotely to use tech in a language they understand.
We want to increase people’s confidence in using tech to set up their own peer support networks, access reliable advice and information, and understand how to spot scams, fraud and online grooming. We will support people to improve their skills in using their kit through our one-to-one mentoring scheme, befriending and training, and online group support.
Digital inclusion has been on our to-do list for a long time, but didn’t seem as urgent as some of our other priorities. Now it really is. This pandemic is tough but has also thrown up some unexpected opportunities and ideas about creative ways to do things better, and fast. We really want to seize this moment to provide refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants with the tech they need to stay safe, feel connected and learn new skills. Please help us.
Here’s the difference it can make:
"With internet now I can do my English lessons and facetime my children while I am waiting for my asylum decision."
"I love my tablet. Now I can talk to my friends and teacher and don't need to ask to use my husband's phone."
"Thank you for connecting me to wifi. I can meet with my online group and join the meditation that helps me cope while I am living in a hostel."
“Because of the help from Voices in Exile, I am now using a tablet and now meeting the group on Zoom every Thursday. For so long I couldn't do anything at home or learn English and now we meet for two hours and speak English all the time and not Arabic. I also see friends and have met many people on Zoom. I am also doing an English lesson every Wednesday on Zoom and my children use the tablet for school work and to learn and play games to make their English better. They also use it to look for information.”