Blogs Reports

Connection and Connectivity


Reported by Mat

Published on Friday, April 22nd, 2022

Covid 19 Digital Inclusion/Exclusion Emergency Accommodation Isolation
Blogs Reports

Connection and Connectivity


Written by Mat

Published on Friday, April 22nd, 2022

Covid 19

Digital Inclusion/Exclusion

Emergency Accommodation

Isolation

This post mentions addiction

 

 

 

‘Connection and Connectivity’ was the first major theme reporters agreed to write upon in the Listen Up! phase of this reporter project.  

Connection refers to the struggle to connect during the lockdown and the loneliness that many of us have faced over the past few years. I was going to say especially those of us who live on our own but I’m guessing there are some people who have longed to swap their lot for the kind of loneliness I have experienced during the pandemic.

You know, those people who got a knuckle sandwich followed by a severe reprimand pie for their daily tea. Anyway, it was hard to stay connected and it’s difficult for many of us to reconnect.

Some of us are physically struggling and many of us had our sobriety challenged in a way that almost felt personal, like some evil dictator who hates drugs and the addicts who take them, had designed a virus to make us all reach for that crutch again.  

The theme of connectivity refers to the world of the web. The truth is that referring to it as ‘world wide’ is a bit of a stretch when there are parts of society that can’t afford to access the hardware to use it on, the data to use it with or the skills to utilise it, full stop.  

Of course face-to-face connection and virtual connectivity are linked. Some people claim that the latter has destroyed the former by replacing it with an unreal and fake world, and that social media has subverted truth and exaggerated extremism, but surely this is just one negative in a sea of myriad impacts.

For me the internet has been nothing but positive. I’ve got back in touch with old friends through social media and met a few new ones too.

I got back in to work here because of the net, it kept me company through some very dark times and not having it when I moved into supported housing left me cut off and alone in a way that I’ve never been before.

The several things I remember most about being homeless were ill-fitting mismatched and unwashed clothes, Poundland headphones, being sick and tired of being sick and tired and little or no access to the internet. What really fried my head was that my access to the web got worse when I moved into supported housing from the streets.

How is that possible you ask? I’ll go into that in the next piece I write in this series but suffice to say that it wasn’t the only thing that got worse after getting a roof over my head. 

With the internet now a basic human need we need to ensure that everyone has access to it. By access we don’t just mean the hardware and data to use it, we also mean the necessary skillset to utilise that access and ensure that it augments your face-to-face life rather than replaces it.

It’s a big ask but one that starts with the provision of Wi-Fi with unlimited data in all temporary and emergency accommodation.  

With the idea of impacting policy and provision in this area I’m going to be writing a couple of pieces a month on connection and connectivity.

Join us: We see the the hub as the start of a movement of people, all united in the belief that elevating our voices will challenge stereotypes and help decision makers end homeless health inequalities. Join us by signing up to our mailing list – the Listen Up! mail out.

Written by Mat


Mat came to Groundswell in 2018 after several years as a volunteer for the Pavement Magazine where he is now Deputy Editor. Part of his role at the Pavement was to help deliver ‘From the Ground Up’, a partnership between the Pavement and Groundswell that taught core journalism skills to people with lived experience of homelessness. As a Project Officer he continues to develop his one on one interview skills and runs focus groups all over the country. Mat’s involved in all parts of the research process, helping to produce: research frameworks; the foundation questions for semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus groups,; the content of quantitative surveys and data analysis. He also has experience of speaking at conferences, working on grant applications, podcast production and as a consultant for film production.

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