THE Salvation Army in France and Belgium has launched a campaign encouraging citizens to provide complimentary access to electricity in order that homeless people – and others in need – can recharge their mobile telephones. During the COVID-19 lockdown, access to charging points in shops, cafes, day centres and other public venues has been curtailed.
David Germain, Communications Director for The Salvation Army in France and Belgium, explains: ‘The consequence is that homeless people can’t remain in touch with their loved ones, or even make an emergency call if they have a problem.’
Named #FreePlugs – after the #FreeHugs movement that was popularised before the introduction of social distancing – the campaign invites people to make a power extension cord safely available at the door or window of their home. This can be done in many settings without infringing guidelines on proximity to others.
‘It may not change the world,’ admits David, ‘But it’s just one way for us to show that The Salvation Army continues to care about people. We can’t hug, but we can plug!’
An eye-catching poster has been designed for participating households to display in their window, and David hopes that the campaign might spread to other countries. ‘We have nothing to lose,’ he says. ‘This is a very low-cost initiative, but it makes the world of difference to a vulnerable person who can be reconnected with the people who are important in their lives. It will be even more powerful if the idea is taken up in other places.’