Update: THANK YOU for helping us reach our original £10,000 target to fund internet provision in 20 Boaz houses for refugees and people seeking asylum. We have now stretched our target so you can give to cover the costs of internet provision for more Boaz clients in years to come.
Since lockdown started back in March, you've probably felt grateful for the ability to get online. The internet can have its downsides (anyone else getting tired of Zoom calls?) but whether you access the internet through your smartphone, desktop computer, laptop or tablet, there are many positives to being able to connect online.
For some, communicating cheaply and frequently with friends and family all over the world has been a lifeline. Others have developed a new passion for exercise thanks to PE with Joe Wicks (other trainers are available!). Many of you will have been able to keep working or volunteering, thanks to the options offered by Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Schools and colleges now deliver most of their teaching online, and faith groups are regularly using live streaming and other online tools to share worship services, bible studies, virtual iftars and more. Watching TV or films online or relaxing by listening to podcasts, audiobooks and other apps has all become part of normal every day life.
Now imagine what lockdown would be like without being able to get online at home. Unfortunately, internet access can be expensive, in terms of the hardware (devices) as well as the contracts. Many Boaz clients aren't allowed to work or claim benefits and they can't take on phone contracts with decent amounts of data. Even those who are entitled to work may struggle to meet their daily living costs, without adding a £25+ phone contract onto their budget. Even when a smartphone has been given or donated to our clients, they can't afford the ongoing data costs. The best option is often to use free WiFi in public places such as libraries or cafes, but most of these are currently closed.
We asked our clients what difference having internet access would make to them:
- Having internet access will mean I can video call my friends and family who I miss very much.
- Having access to the internet in my home will mean I can do the English online learning my college has asked me to do. I can also check the emails I have been sent by my college.
- I am working from home and having the internet installed at the house will help me a lot with being able to do my job.
- I volunteer for a charity and I am missing volunteering there. They have an online portal with activities on and an e-newsletter. I haven't been able to check these things. Having the internet will help me to feel more a part of the team.
Our refugee clients with internet access will be able to complete job application forms, apply for Universal Credit and update their situation on Manchester Move (to apply for social housing). Once our clients can get online at home, Boaz support workers can use Zoom to share their laptop screens with both clients and interpreters as they walk people through these essential online processes. For those who don't yet have refugee status, internet access will enable them to meet virtually with solicitors, exchanging important documents and evidence. And all our clients will be able enjoy a wealth of online wellbeing activities, such as exercise classes, learning opportunities and so much more.
We've felt for a long time that having internet access would be a huge benefit for our clients, and this lockdown period has made that even more apparent. Over the last few weeks we have been working hard to find an affordable and practical way to get Boaz online, and thanks to Rocksalt, our IT company, we've come up with a solution that we can quickly and easily install ourselves.
We've therefore launched a special Crowdfunder appeal to raise the essential funds we need to supply internet access for our shared Boaz houses as quickly as possible. If it is successful, this will allow 69 individuals to get online for all the different purposes we've mentioned above. Please could you stand with us now by making a donation to our internet fund? You can read all about it here. Thank you so much for your support.