“Since accessing the Databank… it’s been a like a weight’s been lifted”

Data and devices helped ease Elhum*’s experiences of juggling bills and managing family life.

I used to have to go to the library with the kids or rely on my family for internet data. I didn’t have a laptop or a tablet either, it was just me and my phone.

Just before the Covid-19 pandemic, I was introduced to Smartlyte through my kid’s school. I was lucky enough to be one of those families that received a free tablet from them, and it was such a relief. It meant that when the lockdowns hit we had access to devices at home.

I still didn’t have internet connectivity data though. It was in the lockdowns that I became heavily reliant on my family, friends and the local library to stay connected. It was hard because we had so many appointments. Doctors’ appointments, for example, as we were at the beginning of my son’s autism and ADHD diagnosis. He was receiving speech and language therapy online, and I was running to my Mum’s house to take the online appointments with him then coming back home.

The tablet was a big help, but no data made things impossible. I had to cut off the wifi around this time, as I just couldn’t afford it. My son’s autism meant that he was ripping through clothes – he found being at home especially difficult. It was a big change for him. I had to buy him new clothes, new pyjamas, and with all of the kids at home the household costs just added up and up. And my son’s speech and language therapy meant I had to check my email and information about his appointments online. But I couldn’t afford the data.

One day I was volunteering at Smartlyte, and they told me about the Databank. They explained that they were running a session the following day. I went along and couldn’t believe how easy it was to access the free data.

Since accessing theDatabank… it’s like a weight’s been lifted. When the kids are at home, they can now do their homework. I can do research and we can all together look up recipes online. The kids have a lot of fun with it as well.

Sometimes, asking family and others to borrow their data felt burdensome. Now I don’t have to be – I have regained my independence and I’m far less stressed about my bills. I’m able to do it all online – check my balance, check my gas and electricity bills. And now we can do appointments online too, from our own home.

Now my situation is much better. The cost-of-living crisis is hard but access to the internet
makes life so much easier.


*Not her real name.