19.4 million Brits left in the dark due to pandemic

Aerial photos of a pair of residential buildings in London, lit up with a series of messages written by poet and mental health campaigner, Hussain for Mastercard, in partnership with Good Things Foundation and Clean Slate, for 19 minutes and 40 seconds, to represent the 19.4 million Britons who are feeling ÔIn the DarkÕ due to digital and financial exclusion caused by COVID-19. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday November 11, 2020. Photo credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Mastercard shone a light on digital and financial exclusion yesterday by lighting up tower blocks in London and Bristol. The buildings were lit up for 19 minutes 40 seconds, to represent the 19.4 million Britons* who are not prepared for the current economic downturn and are left feeling in the dark, due to digital and financial exclusion stemmed from COVID-19.

The coronavirus pandemic has intensified the importance of this issue, with 37%** of people in Britain feeling unprepared for the current economic downturn. With business closures, a rise in redundancies and more working from home, people need a helping hand now more than ever and the uncertainty has left many feeling in the dark, both digitally and financially.

The buildings were located across residential areas in London and Bristol which have close access to one of the partnering charities, Clean Slate, who provide advice and help to those needing digital and financial support. The messages ‘In The Dark?’ and ‘With a year full of so many question marks, I know it’s hard to find yourself in the dark’ were clearly displayed to encourage people in the area to search for help if they felt left in the dark or not prepared for the upcoming challenges of the economic downturn. Mastercard with a coalition of charities have come together to tackle the ever-growing problem head on with the campaign ‘Nobody in the Dark offering support and guidance to those in need.

Influential poet and mental health advocate, Hussain Manawer, joined the campaign to craft the powerful messages projected on the tower blocks. Growing up in East London, Manawer was exposed to crime and juvenile behaviour which for many, harmed the ambition of their futures. Now, as a campaigner he uses his voice to help raise awareness of the support available to help the millions of people who feel left behind or in the dark.

Hussain Manawer said: ”If we can educate and inform people it can only benefit society; starting a conversation and providing tools for help during this pandemic is important. The term digital inclusion is something that affects many people in my life. There are so many people I know and love that are used to dealing with things their way, however with everything changing so quickly it’s important this lets people know that they are really not alone. This campaign was important for me and it is reassuring to see Mastercard join forces with these charities to help implement necessary change and support people in need.”

Digital exclusion can deepen poverty, making it harder to earn, save on essentials, and get help – especially in lockdown. The need to bring together digital skills and inclusion – and practical help with money – has increased dramatically since the COVID-19 crisis. The latest phase of the Nobody in the Dark campaign launches during Talk Money Week, an annual awareness week which aims to get the country talking about money and feeling ok to ask for help. The Nobody in the Dark campaign is aligned with these values and offers support to those who are unsure where to turn and aims to promote financial and digital literacy across the UK.

The ‘Nobody in The Dark’ campaign is supported by Mastercard, Good Things Foundation, Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The APLE Collective, to raise awareness of the people in the UK facing digital and financial exclusion, in addition to launching a self-service digital hub, Nobodyinthedark.co.uk, making it easier to find online support about money and digital skills like online safety; and piloting a guided support service (developed by Clean Slate) to help people future-proof their finances