Covid has been tough on us all. But it hasn’t affected everyone the same. The most vulnerable in our society have been hit hard by the pandemic. And it’s not over yet. The isolation and social distancing guidelines brought in have affected people who are staying in homeless hostels or care homes in a unique way.
Separated from families and friends, their only way to communicate and socialise is over the internet: seeing a familiar face, having a laugh with mates, reading the news, going on social media, watching a movie or playing a game. The internet is needed also to access education, training programs or counseling services.
These activities are vital to maintaining positive mental health in what is, and will continue to be, difficult circumstances.
I am happy to donate funds to the Internet 4 All campaign to purchase phones and data for young people struggling with their mental health and who have neither the tech nor the funds to get online. It’s the least I can do.
But let’s be clear about this.
Every hostel and care home receives significant amounts of public money. And each has wifi in their facilities. There is no justification for refusing people access to wifi provision in facilities funded by me and you - the public.
I say to the Executive: you want to promote good mental health? This one very simple step and low cost measure the Executive can take tomorrow.
These young people have been waiting long enough.