As government ends its furlough scheme, the Universal Credit uplift, and the renter’s evictions ban in many parts of the country - 94% of local authorities in England expect to see an increase in newly unemployed people made homeless*.
New research released today from Tesco Mobile1 finds that over a third (40%) of Brits say they are uncertain about the future once current government support ends. Meanwhile, almost half (45%) of those who received government support during the pandemic believe they will struggle financially.
More worryingly for those at risk of, or experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, such as sofa-surfing and rough sleeping, is that a digital connection is proving to be one of the few ways to access essential support they need.
A new campaign from Tesco Mobile and Crisis is seeking to highlight the importance of digital connection in helping to support an increasing number of people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
Almost all (91%) of the support Crisis provided since the start of lockdown was delivered remotely. Doctors’ appointments, universal credit and job applications have similarly moved predominantly online.
While 82% of those surveyed believe that having access to the internet and/or mobile phone is now essential to everyday life, one in four (23%) struggled to pay for essential things like food, council tax or Wi-Fi / phone bills during the pandemic.
Tesco Mobile and Crisis are working in partnership to close the digital divide faced by people experiencing homelessness. In the first year of the partnership Tesco Mobile donated over £750,000 worth of devices and data to Crisis clients to ensure that they could access vital services and support, including Crisis, to help them end their homelessness.
Now, as part of a joint year two campaign, celebrities including Scott Mills, Dr Zoe Williams, Denise Welch and Rebecca Adlington, have been documenting going without their phones or internet access to tackle everyday tasks. Their experience highlights just how vital having a digital connection is in preventing or helping someone on a path out of homelessness. Watch their videos here.
Commenting on the difficulty she faced when trying to transfer money without any form of digital connection, Denise Welch says “The experience has been an eye opener for me, and it has really highlighted how having a digital connection is vital to helping those on path out of homelessness. We all take our digital devices for granted, me included, and without them - I felt lost.”
The public is also being encouraged to use a special QR code that’s been created to raise awareness of the need for digital connection in the post-pandemic world. Research revealed that over a third (38%) of people have needed to use a QR code to access the NHS Trace and Trace app and 30% to order food and drink.
Tesco Mobile is hoping people will share the QR code, which links directly to Crisis, as a practical demonstration of how digital connection, a phone and data, can help people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness to access support and essential services, and help end homelessness for good.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, says: “The last 18 months have not only shown us the importance of having somewhere safe and secure to call home, but they’ve laid bare how vital staying connected to others and being able to access services and support are to people facing homelessness.
“Throughout the pandemic, our teams across the country have worked tirelessly to make sure that we continue to be there for the people that need us, providing vital housing, employment and wellbeing support. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without Tesco Mobile’s invaluable support and the huge number of devices and data provided to our clients which have meant we can stay in close contact.
“As we look ahead, we must build on this improved digital connectivity. Today’s figures show that as a nation we’re increasingly reliant on our phones and the internet, and this technology allows us to play an active part in our communities. We know we can end homelessness for good, and digital connection has a crucial part to play in helping us do this.”
Tom Denyard, CEO of Tesco Mobile says: “For many of us, coming out of lockdown represents a crisis finally easing. But, as the impact of the pandemic unravels and government support winds down, many families and individuals face a frightening reality.
Today more than ever, digital connection is providing access to vital support and tools. In partnership with Crisis, we want to highlight the importance of digital connection and it’s important role in helping to end homelessness.”