Suffolk Family Carers, Suffolk User Forum, Ace Anglia, and a dozen other regional organisations, are calling for the support of local businesses to help them through the next chapter of the pandemic.
Suffolk Family Carers, ACE Anglia and Suffolk User Forum have identified numerous of individuals at risk of missing out on key service provision, or losing all family contact, because of a lack of technology and communication devices.
The lack of technological devices also means such groups are at risk of missing out on key services and resources available in the community, because they are not able to search the internet.
Participation in the government’s new track and trace initiative will also be prohibitive.
Kirsten Alderson, CEO of Suffolk Family Carers, believes local businesses could play a key part in ensuring vulnerable individuals and households were better supported at this challenging time.
“It’s very easy to assume that everyone has access to the internet these days, or that they can be in touch with friends and family via smartphones and tablet devices. The reality is, this simply isn’t the case. Every day we’re speaking to families or individuals who are being deprived of resources, or further isolated in their own lives, because of a lack of technology and communication. It would make the world of difference if we could encourage businesses within the county to play a part in helping us at this time of need.”
Some of the ways the organisations are suggesting businesses could support the initiative include:
- Donate equipment such as smart phones, tablets or laptops for vulnerable users. This could be used, but ideally would be new.
- Provide technical support services to help configure phones to meet specific user needs or a ‘helpdesk’ to walk people through any basic problems
- Prepare training materials for individuals who are learning how to use technology for the first time. This could take the form of a webinar or be face to face via zoom/MS teams etc
- Provide funding to allow the ongoing connection of the devices to mobile or broadband providers
Jayne Stevens, of Suffolk User Forum, added:
“We have completely changed the way we provide our support and know how vital regular contact is for the people who we reach out to. Whilst many of us are finding this a stressful time, for people living with mental health problems the impact of isolation can be almost unbearable.
“We need to remember that many people cannot afford a smartphone, tablet or laptop and these are essential for staying connected with friends, family, professionals and for accessing online resources. We are concerned that some of the people who need support most, are the ones missing out. That’s where the wider community can help.”
The organisations are asking anyone who can help to contact Richard Smale on 07976 722629.
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