Digital technology is increasingly ubiquitous in the lives of people in the UK. Yet the power of digital technology has not yet been fully harnessed by those working with homeless and vulnerable people.
Theories that predict that homeless people will be increasingly excluded as technology becomes more important underestimate the ability of many homeless people to access and use digital technology.
70% of homeless people now own a mobile phone. Many use computers, smart phones and laptops to blog, chat, network and play. Homeless people can be engaged and empowered to use digital technology.
This technology can enable vulnerable people to voice their opinions, enhance their capabilities and facilitate communication. In turn it can be used to personalise and improve service provision.
Where digital exclusion does exist, it is not due to itinerant and chaotic lifestyles but to problems of access, confidence and digital literacy.
This review by Lemos & Crane in conjunction with Lankelly Chase and Thames Reach covers the multiple uses of digital technology and issues of access, provision, training and education.
The review covers many examples of good practice which utilise technology for the benefit of homeless people. It also shows how sites such as Twitter facilitate peer to peer discussions as well as welcoming homeless people into the wider sphere of public discussion.