How A Phone Is A Lifeline For Those Without A Home

For those who can afford it, a cellphone is a handy essential. But for someone who's homeless, it can be a lifeline, a way to stay safe and connected to people who can help anywhere and at any time. Improving access to technology for those who are vulnerable isn’t a new idea. It's been suggested for many years that a cellphone is an essential tool and is an issue of social equality: for those who don't have a computer, Wi-Fi or a mobile phone, it's nearly impossible to get a job, connect to critical health and social services or reach out for help when in danger.

Harry, a new client of Haven Toronto, lives alone on the streets. He is scared to stay in shelters because of the threat of COVID-19 and has trouble sleeping outside because he fears for his safety. Since becoming homeless, Harry has suffered from severe depression and sleep apnea. A few nights ago, while he slept on a grate, Harry was robbed of everything he owned- his cell phone and his personal identification. In response, crisis counsellors at Haven Toronto gave him a donated phone from Telus that he could use free of charge. “That intervention alone made his day and he left here beaming,” said Barry Tierney, nurse at Haven Toronto. “He could use his phone to get his life back together. A phone which he is lucky to be literate enough to use, something we often take for granted.” Access to a phone provides staff a way to connect with a client virtually which is important as clients who don’t have access to technology often fall through the health care cracks, explained Tierney. The pandemic has placed a greater sense of urgency on providing vulnerable people access to phones and technology. For individuals who are testing for COVID-19, it is imperative that healthcare workers can reach them with their results. Since the begin