I’m getting frustrated with the internet today – and phones, and computer and anything else that needs a signal. I’ve been trying to write this blog since Monday morning; it’s now Tuesday and still struggling. Signal keeps dipping in and out. My work is saved to the mysterious cloud (I have back up copies of important work but not necessarily the day to day stuff) and I can’t access this except sporadically.

So being me, this got me thinking. I use the internet for so many things.

I shop on line, plenty of choice, and it’s delivered to my door. Even smaller suppliers and individuals sell on line nowadays so I’m not just limited to large companies. I have even ordered a freshly made high-tea with sandwiches and cakes, delivered promptly to my door by a local business, for a family birthday.

I manage my medication online, ordering repeat prescriptions. The prescriptions are currently sent to my local chemist, but I could go that one step further and have the medication delivered to my home.

Part of my disability is not being able to remember anywhere new so I often get lost if left to my own devices. I plan journeys on line. I use Google maps which show me where I am in a bus journey, and guide me to my destination. This is a huge help in regaining independence. It doesn’t always work out – fortunately for me, there is always someone on the other end of the phone to guide me in when it’s gone wrong. As long as my phone is working…

We have a family Messenger group where people chat away throughout the day, checking everyone is ok, making plans, just idle gossip. Yet it keeps us in touch so we all know that there is someone at hand for those moments when we need someone else around.

I belong to many groups on Facebook, mainly those for people who share the same interests – groups for writers, groups for my local community. There is even one for the road that I live in, sharing simple info like what day is recycling collection, to warnings that someone is trying car doors.

This little group of neighbours organised events during lockdown like a doorstep disco, courtesy of a guy on our road who gave his time and equipment to play great music. This week my daughter and I are encouraging people to have a walk round looking at the festive lights and inviting them to walk past ours for a mince pie. This sense of community is something that didn’t really exist – at least, not that I was aware of – until lockdown prompted a new way of connecting powered by the internet.

I know there is much wrong with our use of the internet: how easy it is for people to take advantage of other less savvy users, how people behind the keyboard can turn into bullies in a way they would never be face to face. Yet for me with my disabilities, the internet has enabled me to be more independent in many ways, and allowed me to stay in contact with people who I would not otherwise have been able to see, not easily in anyway.

So now I have almost forgiven the internet for its occasional failure to deliver – as long as I can get this blog out to you this week.

Portland Jones, Disability Liaison for Pagan Federation Midlands