At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was blissfully unaware of the massive impact digital poverty was already having on people in need; to be honest, I’m not now entirely sure what it was that kicked me into action, but somehow I became aware of what digital poverty was in general, and then discovered the painful details as the months went on.
Those of us working in this area are now much more aware of the wide variety of impacts that digital poverty has on the lives of vulnerable people: for me, social isolation is the most important of these – the thought of sitting alone at home unable to communicate with friends and family, or worse still, not having any friends or family, and being unable to communicate with people in general – is horrific even to imagine; but the other impacts are key too: education and work skills play a huge part in all of our lives, and access to health care is increasingly, and massively, supported by proper technology properly used; we risk widening the digital divide even further if we don’t address the issues that we have here now.
But our progress over the past 18 months has been encouraging: the Digital Poverty Alliance is one aspect of that, and we now see the collaboration between social and technical partners that I think and hope will enable us to act together to address social problems with technical solutions.
We are also aware of the huge effort required to fix this problem, even while still being aware of our other looming catastrophes: the impacts of Brexit, COVID-19 and climate change are going to be enormous, and need to be addressed, and that’s without even beginnig to touch on worldwide poverty, hunger and war. But while I can vote and campaign on other issues, my own skills and experience don’t equip me to get so directly involved or act as effectively.
So this is my thing: in an area where I have the skills and experience to act to address an issue that affects people more vulnerable than me, I can do that.
I urge you to do the same.
Dave Donaghy, DPA Ambassador