In effect, this is an apology to my MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, and Margaret Ritchie, MLA, Minister for Social Development, in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Recently, on more than one occasion, I have written about the qualities of the Citizens Advice Bureau, while berating the advertisements for financial assistance so prevalent on television. My problem is the fact that I do not surf the net as a hobby, but use it more as a tool, and clearly, ineffectually.
Am I the only person who has previously never heard of Directgov, the website of the government information service? Margaret Ritchie, in reply to a letter from my MP, kindly sent a vast list of the various departments of government set up to help people in financial difficulty, and the level of funding they receive. When I read the letter I was suitably dumbfounded that I had not managed to discovered on the Internet any of these bodies. If I had gone to Directgov I would have found all the information I wanted not only on a national basis, but on a parochial basis.
I write this, because I am aware that there are a lot of people of my age, and probably a lot younger, who are not particularly computer literate, in the way the government and local authorities expect us to be, when they send vital information of our day-to-day requirements on the Internet. I know I have gone over this ground before, but Directgov is so far-reaching that it should be drawn to everyone’s attention, not just the 175 people who read my blog daily. I trust that someone will pick this up and broadcast it more widely. I have used it now to discover a number of departments of government that I have wanted to contact, but previously had had little success.