No more Milk & More for those without internet access The news that the biggest milk delivery service, Milk & More will only be available to on-line customers is very concerning. For many vulnerable, older people, their milk delivery is a vital and important service that connects them to their community. This move could have far reaching effects for all those who are socially and digitally isolated. Our CEO, Lynne Misner, commented “ At a time of increased social isolation, particularly as a result of lockdown, where the milkman may be the only person they see, this decision further isolates an already lonely and isolated sector of the population who will lose access to much needed food supplies and social contact. With 1 in 5 spending their waking day alone, the milkman/woman may be the only person they see for days, or maybe even for weeks.” Featured in several national newspapers, including the Telegraph and the Guardian, one lady is quoted as saying “I’ve been a customer for 20 years and I am really upset because my milkman is more of a friend.” The average age of our Warm in Winter gift bag recipients is 80+ years old, an age group who are less digitally literate, with less digital access than other age groups. Our own research and feedback has shown that 48% of those who responded by completing a feedback card do not have access to the internet. Of the 52% who do have access, only half of those use it everyday with 13% saying that they never use it. In a reply to a social media message, Milk & More have stated that their online business is now 80%. However the remaining 20%, who are not online, are likely to be the most vulnerable and in need of this service the most. Furthermore, they say “We are here to help all of our customers who would like to have an online account. In fact, many of Milk & More’s online customers currently enjoy the service with the help of a family member or trusted friend, who have helped set up their account initially. As well as the option of family or trusted friends helping customers get online, Milk & More has also teamed up with a leading charity organisation called The Good Things Foundation who help people get online.” We believe that this approach further perpetuates the widely accepted, and often wrong, assumption that older people want help to get online. “Never had it and never wanted it. It’s just something else to go wrong. I’m happy as I am, thank you.” - Warm in Winter gift bag recipient. It also ignores several additional issues: those who don’t have anyone to help them; those who don’t have access to the internet, and; those who don’t have the capacity to learn new technology. “Having memory problems, I cannot always remember what I have been shown.” “Would be unable to have the skills to use the internet so can't shop online.” “I feel completely isolated from the outside world. I only have a state pension and cannot afford the internet.” “Do not shop online or bank because I may make a mistake.” “Not everyone has access to modern day devices and not everyone can afford them either. A landline or post are the only access I have to the outside world.” - Warm in Winter gift bag recipients. We urge Milk & More to rethink their decision to stop their phone payment option. From our feedback on digital access, having reached over 16,500 vulnerable, older people over the last year, an online only service would create further isolation. We would be more than happy to share our findings.