Healthwatch Islington believes that digital can be for anyone, let’s not make assumptions about some people not being able to get on-line. But it isn’t for everyone. Health and care services need to make sure they are accessible to people who cannot (permanently or temporarily) use digital devices.
We know that there is a huge digital divide in Islington. This digital poverty affects those experiencing other forms of disadvantage and exacerbates health inequality. Access to digital can help us save money on essentials including fuel and food, can help us keep connected with others particularly when we are socially distancing and when travel has become harder and is an essential tool for employment and education.
We know from extensive research with some of the borough’s more excluded communities that people want to stay healthy but are limited by finances, stresses of life, and lack of access to accessible, reliable health promotion information. However, many have smartphones but only use them for calls.
We want to improve statutory service providers' understanding of what makes residents digitally excluded and how to overcome these barriers. We want to support residents to develop new skills to be able to access health and well-being information and resources and to access mainstream services on-line where this makes services more accessible to them.
We want recognition that digital has a cost to the resident, and that connectivity varies from street to street because of the inconsistent quality of the digital infrastructure in the UK. It seems wrong that the Department of Work and Pensions only permit applications for benefits on-line, and yet not everyone has access to a reliable, affordable internet connection.
Find out more about our digital support service
During this pandemic it's more important than ever to have digital skills. We can give you the support and encouragement you need to build your confidence using your device. Our digital champions will show you how to get online and connect to friends, family and the services you need to stay healthy.