Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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Inside story: Issues that the BAME community face.

Please see below a blog entry from Attia, our Outreach Coordinator.

I am currently working as an outreach officer for Surrey Coalition, working with the BAME community to spread the word about support available for disabled people and those facing digital exclusion.

Earlier this month I met a gentleman, Mr Hussain, aged 47, living in UK for about 20 years.  He is able read, write and communicate in English very well and can use the internet.  However, he is not happy about the sudden change to services using online systems and has found it very difficult to dealt with.  He feels teenagers or youngsters can manage the changes, but feels his age group and older are a little ‘old-school’, meaning they struggle with this daily; for example, using online banking.

Last month he missed his flight to Europe when he was asked at the airport to download the app in his phone and add vaccine records, Covid-19 test results and his travel documents. He struggled with this, and by the time he had finished, it was too late; he unfortunately missed the flight and he had to buy a new ticket.

He also talked to me about a time that he found very embarrassing, he got stuck at the till whilst was paying for his groceries. He wanted to transfer money from his saving account to his current account and it did not work. His mobile data was not strong enough due to the lack of phone signal inside the supermarket. Previously, he would have gone to the bank to transfer money.  He made the point that financial literacy and education is so closely linked with digital literacy now.   

In terms of NHS services, he is happy with the treatments and quality of care but reported that sometimes he has been told to contact Livi or NHS 111 and they will refer you back to your GP which can be frustrating.  He feels GP surgeries don’t want him to phone and will ask him to go online for everything.  He finds this very difficult.  Mr Hussain had a backpain and his GP referred him to physio and after a three months wait, he received an appointment from the hospital with physio which was another 7 weeks away.  These delays and waiting times are awful when you are in pain and he wasn’t able to easily get information about when he would be seen.

According to him, these changes to online are all positive changes but they were too sudden and he feels it will take a while before people in his community are able to use the online services the way people would like them to.

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