Tackling Digital Exclusion with Savera UK
In collaboration with Savera UK, an organisation working to tackle ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices across the UK, Spark and Co. was able to support its clients and their families with access to smartphones and data as part of our tackling digital exclusion programme.
Since 2010, Savera UK - a Liverpool City Region-based national organisation - has campaigned to eliminate ‘honour’-based abuse and other harmful practices, and provide life-saving services to those at risk, regardless of age, culture, sexuality or gender identity. In 2017 it launched its support service, helping survivors of ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices to rebuild their lives by providing emotional and practical support, to support them to gain economic independence and move forward into their future with confidence.
Many of Savera UK’s clients are asylum seekers who are unable to work or access welfare. At the start of this project, 70 percent of clients involved in the project did not have access to online services at home.
This was a specific and pressing challenge for Savera UK’s clients. Due to the lockdown and strict local Covid-19 restrictions in late 2020, all face-to-face support had to stop.
In our needs assessment with Savera UK staff, we learned that its drop-in sessions were integral to the mental wellbeing for many of their clients, as they were sometimes the only part of the week when their clients would see other adults. Without being able to leave the house or attend drop-in sessions, clients were struggling with feelings of isolation, and were cut off from their usual streams of information. In addition to this, many services pivoted to online models of delivery during the pandemic, including food banks. With many of the clients being mothers, this has a trickle down effect on the wellbeing of the family.
Without access to smartphones and data, some families were not able to use the services they used to rely on.
Our research showed that women of colour - in particular within the refugee and asylum communities - were hardest hit by the economic and care repercussions of Covid-19. See the Runnymede Trust report here.
We wanted to work with Savera UK as many of their clients fit this demographic, and they were, at the time, facing the challenge of adapting their services to ensure they could continue to support their clients throughout the lockdown, while face-to-face activity was banned.
Our partnership with Savera UK aimed to tackle digital inclusion, and provide access to information, support and online clinics.
This project focused firstly on tackling digital exclusion, and supporting mental and physical wellbeing.
Tackling digital exclusion:
- Spark and Co. supported Savera UK by providing smartphones and data bursaries
- This enabled Savera UK’s clients to access the vital support and information online that they needed to remain independent and confident. By facilitating access to phones and data packs, Savera UK was able to ensure that its clients could attend virtual drop-ins and access online services
Supporting mental and physical wellbeing:
- We partnered with Writerz n Scribez to provide wellbeing activity packs full of artistic and mindful activities to the families currently signed up for support
- A doctor from Spark and Co’s network specialising in Women’s Health also ran an online session for a small group of women.The topics covered included patient rights, communicating with your doctor, describing symptoms and issues in English and how to access support through the pandemic
On Savera UK:
- By providing access to smartphones and data packs, Savera UK was able to continue the digital delivery of its work
- It could continue to support its clients in an online format - from helping them stay connected and accessing online services such as food banks, to finding Covid-19 information and guidelines
On Savera UK’s clients:
- Clients accessed smartphone and data bursaries. The provision of smartphones and data was an integral part of enabling each client to have the necessary tools to make informed decisions during Covid-19 and access support
- Families received well being activity packs which greatly addressed mental wellbeing
- A small group of women accessed the doctor-led session, gaining vital information about women’s health during Covid-19. Participants were able to ask questions; from the impact of Covid-19 on asthmatic people to steps to take to protect yourself if you have a chronic condition. One participant said “thank you for explaining everything”
This also enabled the Savera UK team to further support its clients, for example, ensuring they were on the right treatment plan.
Savera UK continues to manage the smartphones and the data bursary, providing the opportunity for long-term solutions. This partnership enabled Savera UK and its clients to access the necessary tools during Covid-19, and Founder and CEO Afrah Qassim said “thank you for the support and partnership”.
“The support of Sparks & Co has been integral to the development of our digital platforms as we pivot in response to the pandemic and our clients’ changing needs. Providing clients with a means to engage with services and communicate with other services users has significantly improved our clients’ well being and mental health. Thank you.” - Savera UK