SINCE the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, levels of loneliness in the UK have increased. ‘Between 3 April and 3 May 2020, 5.0% of people (about 2.6 million adults) said they felt lonely ‘often’ or ‘always”.
People have moved from very low levels to endemic levels of loneliness, which will have long-term effects upon people going back to work, people’s overall health and well-being, and productivity of the UK. The pandemic has shown lots of holes within our technology infrastructure, many people cannot afford equipment, and the cost of data is becoming an increasing issue.
WaveLength’s report calls for more attention on the benefits everyday technology can bring to some of the loneliest people. Not everyone can afford to buy the everyday technology which many of us take for granted. It is just as important for funding to cover the purchase of equipment and connectivity alongside training. The report calls for free access to a minimum standard of broadband in order to connect greater numbers of people via smart televisions and tablet computers. Based on WaveLength’s eight decades of work around technology and loneliness, the report also highlights how others can successfully deliver programs of support on a national and local level.
WaveLength’s CEO Tim Leech said:
“As the oldest, loneliness and technology charity in the world, we are seeing lots of people making mistakes over how technology is being utilized, and this report is an attempt to help other organisations and government understand how you operate and how organisations can run successful technological interventions to reduce loneliness.
“We have three key recommendations that government and those working within the industry should consider for the well-being and health of citizens of the UK:
- We recognise there is negativity around the relationship between technology and loneliness, but our research and 80 years of experience of working with our beneficiaries shows that technology has helped them improve their mental well-being, quality of life.
- You don’t need innovative or costly technology to reduce people’s loneliness. Every home should be connected. To expand the provision of technology, there should be means-tested access to a minimum standard of broadband.
- Digital Equality is not just about providing access to equipment and data at an affordable level but the maintenance of non-digital alternatives to provide holistic access.
“Detailed recommendations are included in the report.”