As the Reading Half Marathon approaches this Sunday, and I'll be running to support a great cause that is a local charity in Reading that supports homelessness, this article caught my eye. In a world where we (myself included) often don't spend long unattached to our smart devices (because they are so useful in helping us to do things quicker, make progress, gain knowledge), it got me thinking about how a smartphone might be perceived by some as a luxury item, when it is in fact intrinsically linked to personal development and and in this case, escaping homelessness, or in fact low paid jobs. Through ensuring that those who are homeless or unemployed have smartphones and know how to use them, they are contactable, and their safety can be improved, and they can also make sure they know about job opportunities, or support opportunities that they may need, and wish to use. Free wifi readily available to connect to in streets and surrounding areas is crucial to being able to get online, if a contract with a data allowance isn't an option, and it's great to see that increasingly more places have free wifi that doesn't require an off-putting signing up process. Finding motivation to apply for jobs can be challenging for anyone, not least if you don't have access to opportunities and applications in the palm of your hand. I'll certainly be considering donating my old iPhone instead of reselling it back to O2, and I wonder if you might too.
“Smartphones are incomparable tools for connecting people who are isolated, and empowering homeless and extreme-low-income individuals to access life-changing services and gain self-sufficiency,” says Baez. As the number of phones in circulation rises due to frequent technology upgrades, slightly out-dated or secondhand devices are increasingly available and affordable. The real challenge for homeless people, Baez and FitzGibbon say, lies in the maintenance of a phone — finding a place to charge it, maintaining a contract, affording a top up or having enough space for necessary apps. For that reason, projects that increase public wireless networks, such as that recently announced by BT and Barclays, are helpful for homeless people as they are not required to go in to a shop or cafe where they might have to purchase something.