The people St Martins support have benefited from free connectivity thanks to the supply of 200 free SIM cards from Vodafone. The St Martins team and Pathways service distribute the SIM cards to people sleeping rough, meaning that they can be easily contacted to be supported and offered accommodation.
Kat Alabaster, Pathways team leader says the SIMs have been invaluable to people facing digital exclusion. She said, “So much is done online now, so enabling the people we support to contact the job centre, council or a support worker quickly can make all the difference. There are some cases where we have been able to house people thanks to the devices, whereas before we had no means of contacting them if they had moved sleep site.”
The SIM cards come with 20GB data a month, plus free calls and texts, for six months. Kat said, “When someone moves into accommodation, it is welcoming to be able to offer them a phone loaded with data. What they are experiencing is traumatic so to be able to contact friends can be a real help. Computers are free to use at local libraries, but some people’s anxiety means that is not accessible to them.”
The SIM cards have also been used for people who have experienced domestic violence who need a new number in order to keep them safe.
St Martins have been able to access smart phones through Norwich Street Aid, and they also use donated phones for the people they support.
Pictured above: Kat with the SIM cards