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Crossing the 'digital divide'

July 11th 2009
The move by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to ensure the homeless have internet access, reported in last issue, has been welcomed by many homeless organisations throughout the UK as a useful step towards helping people help themselves. But is this really the golden ticket it is made out to be? Jamie, for example, found himself jobless after his previous contract with a large corporation ended, and his fortunes took a downturn until he had no option but to turn to the streets. His search for accommodation took him to Jimmy's Night Shelter in Cambridge, where he found a warm bed and, importantly for him, an internet connection. We asked Jamie what his thoughts were on the latest move from the ODPM. "I think it's a positive move, definitely. Without the internet, I would have found it impossible to turn my situation around; all the jobs are advertised online and the fact that I could be made aware of job opportunities as soon as they came up has really helped." It has taken Jamie eight months to really turn his fortunes around; he has had several interviews now and is confident he will have found work by Christmas. Although this success story would seem to back the view of the ODPM, it must be put in context: Jamie is well qualified in IT, and has 15 years' management experience behind him. He accepts that his success in finding work so quickly whilst being homeless is an exception rather than the rule and agrees that having access to the internet is not a sure way of relieving the problems of homelessness. "It isn't just about having access to the internet; it is about wanting to use it in the right way. I have seen many people using the internet at Jimmy's [the night shelter Jamie is in], but the majority prefer to use it for games and downloading the latest pop music. I really am an isolated case." Although the ODPM move for access to the internet for the homeless is welcome, there is a fundamental need to understand that just possessing the tools to better a person's access to work and housing is no guarantee that they know how to use them.

December 2005



Homeless hidden

Westminster homeless conference

Remembrance service

The soup runs strike back!

I'm a celebrity... let me sleep out here

North Lambeth Day Centre will not reopen

A penny for 'em

Capital Volunteering

Crossing the 'digital divide'

New survey lists homeless woes

A hostel Christmas

Crisis loans

Police move-on

Good soup guide: No. 5 - SW London Vineyard

Christmas services at Crisis


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© Copyright 2009-2014 The Pavement. Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656 Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760 ISSN (online) 1757-0484