During this pandemic, we have come to understand just how important technology is when it comes to connecting with people. We have also come to realise how difficult it is, and how big the barriers are, for people who have limited access to technology.
Since the pandemic started, most refugee services in the city have had to switch to virtual support, adapting brilliantly to ensure that no one goes without. This has, of course, meant that those without smart phones have struggled to access services.
During the first lockdown, we asked for people to send in their old smart phones and the community delivered. We were overwhelmed with the response and thank all of those who donated for making such a difference to people’s day-to-day lives during lockdown.
The time has come for us to make that ask again. We have been contacted by one of our partner organisations, IMPACT, who work with people seeking sanctuary and non-EU migrants, saying that they are in need of phones for people they work with*. Describing the need for the phones, they said “since COVID-19 hit, we have adapted our programme to be delivered online, either through Zoom or over the phone/WhatsApp. This has allowed us to reach those who are particularly isolated and vulnerable. As you might imagine, many people we are working with are experiencing extreme digital poverty, with some families sharing one (or none!) phone between their families. This is particularly challenging for them whilst schools are closed, because children might be using a phone to access schoolwork whilst parents might want to use a phone to study English or apply for jobs.”
This is where you come in. A brilliant way to show solidarity during this crisis, donating a smartphone would mean that people seeking sanctuary would have access not only to education services and community programmes, but also would enable them to communicate with friends and family during isolation. Both are crucial during this uncertain time.
We need phones which are unlocked and wiped of personal data. We also need phone chargers (ideally the original charger if possible, especially if it is an iPhone). Please mark it for the attention of Bristol City of Sanctuary and post it to The Assisi Centre, Lawford’s Gate, Easton, BS5 0RE or drop it at The Vench, Groundwork South, Romney Ave, Lockleaze, BS7 9TB during office hours on Monday-Thursday. If you have any questions then please email [email protected]
*Please note, that if we have a surplus of phones donated, they may also be passed to other organisations working with people seeking sanctuary in the city