MOBILE SOCIAL WORK

ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media 

What A Mobile Phone Means When You Are Homeless

Here are some quotes taken from a great article by Kat Ascharya (Mobileidea) that was published at maschable.com.  The article shows the importance that mobile phones have for homeless:

[…]

Image by Rommy Ghaly, shared under a Creative Commons license.

Image by Rommy Ghaly, shared under a Creative Commons license.

His phone, then, functions as an important conduit. On the surface, it’s his most important, practical tool. He can call places for work with it. He can call up shelters and other social services to see what’s available. He calls public transportation to find out which bus lines are running and check out schedules.

Email and text are especially important features. He can reach out to friends to see if he can crash with them for a night or two, especially if the weather is rough. But he has to be careful. “You don’t want to impose,” he said. “You can’t exhaust your friends. Otherwise they’ll get tired of helping you, thinking, ‘Why are you still struggling?'” The hidden worry is that you’ll never leave.

Ironically, all this is easier to manage over text and email than the phone. “You don’t have to worry about sounding upbeat and confident all the time,” he said. No one wants to help out the hopeless, and sometimes it’s not really so easy to disguise the worry and anxiety in your voice.

[…]

On another level, Bert said his phone connects him to less tangible, but still important, resources. He knows people can reach him, no matter where he sleeps at night. He gets daily e-mails from an online ministry, with inspirational messages and passages from the Bible. Those keep up his spirit and faith and keep him going. He can read news on the browser, too. Ironically, his biggest criticism of BlackBerry is the browser: it’s slow and outdated, and most websites won’t load on it anymore. He only gets a certain amount of time on the computer at the public library, so he often begins researching jobs and housing on his phone and makes a list of websites he wants to visit when he gets on a computer with a faster connection.

The phone also, in part, structures his day in an often chaotic life. He has an exhaustive list of places to charge his phone, and he makes sure to hit them at some point during the day. He’s careful about his power and data usage and carries his charger at all times, in one of the capacious pockets of his army jacket. “When I see a free outlet somewhere, I have to say, it feels like Christmas,” he said. Free Wi-Fi inspires the same feeling; he can save up his valuable data usage.

[…]

via: A Homeless Man and His BlackBerry

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2 comments on “What A Mobile Phone Means When You Are Homeless

  1. homelessguyoh
    July 10, 2013

    Very true. The first 4 months of me being homeless I didn’t have a phone at all. Luckily I acquired one recently so that’s been great and very, very, very useful.

  2. Meghan
    August 6, 2013

    I completely agree! Recently helped someone get a phone and minutes. Makes all the difference in finding services!

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This entry was posted on July 9, 2013 by in Health, Nonprofits & Fundraising and tagged , , , , .
Lutz Siemer

Lutz Siemer

Education, Research & Development in Social Work & IT After working as an alternative practitioner and psychotherapist in private practice for nearly ten years I stepped over to higher education in 2005. At Saxion University of Applied Sciences I lecture and do research and development in the area of Social Work, Psychology and IT. Currently I'm focussing on merging mobile technology and social work.

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