everyone.connected | 10 Oct 2023

Realities of the digital divide: Emma Willis teams up with Vodafone to highlight Britain’s hidden crisis

Vodafone launches new three-part YouTube mini docu-series presented by Emma Willis, Disconnected, which sheds light on the realities of being on the wrong side of the digital divide.

  • Digital dependents: Brits complete at least 90 tasks online every day, up 10% on 2022.
  • Brits send 270 text messages, make 180 phone calls and book 150 appointments online, every month.
  • For those who are digitally excluded, tasks like banking take an extra 1.5 hours on average without connectivity.
  • Of those who are connected, 49% claim they would have higher stress levels if mobile data wasn’t accessible.
  • Vodafone launches new three-part YouTube mini docu-series, Disconnected, as part of its everyone.connected initiative, which sheds light on the realities of being on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Emma Willis has teamed up with Vodafone to bring to life the realities of the digital divide in a new YouTube mini docu-series entitled ‘Disconnected’. In the first episode of the series, launched today, Emma explores some of the simple day-to-day tasks that are quick to perform when online, but become time-consuming challenges without any connection to the internet, apps or social media.

The series was created as part of Vodafone’s ongoing everyone.connected campaign, which aims to close the digital divide by donating connectivity, skills and devices to the 1.7 million people and businesses across the UK that are living in digital exclusion.

Disconnected comes hot on the heels of new research from Vodafone that delves into the importance of connectivity and the skills required to maximise being online, revealing that being connected is more important than other everyday essentials for Brits. 38% say being connected is important, compared to exercising (29%) and socialising (25%).

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Those surveyed state that, every day, they now complete 90 personal and work tasks online. This is up 10% on a year ago and 11% on pre-pandemic levels. In fact, the research showed that Brits send 270 text messages, make 180 phone calls, and arrange 150 appointments online every month.

Those surveyed also highlighted the key benefits of being connected, indicating that it improves their:

  • Financial management (57%).
  • Ability to conduct daily tasks e.g. booking appointments (54%).
  • Social connections (46%).
  • Job or education opportunities (30%).
  • Health and fitness (25%).

Keeping in touch with friends and family is important for Brits, as almost four-in-10 (39%) use their phone to do so up to three times a day, and 34% cite this as their biggest struggle if they were to find themselves without an internet connection. Other predicted struggles include not being able to shop online (34%), manage finances (31%) or maintain work expectations (21%).

Of those surveyed who had experienced being without connectivity, 41% reported feeling stressed and 31% isolated.

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With so many day-to-day tasks being simpler, quicker and more cost-effective to do online, the research showed that those facing digital exclusion could spend additional hours a day completing tasks such as banking (1.5 hours), booking appointments (1 hour) and paying household bills (1.2 hours). This is something Emma found when looking into the impacts of digital exclusion on daily life.

Docu-series presenter, Emma Willis, said: “Alongside Vodafone, we wanted to get under the skin of the issue and better understand, in just a small way, what life is like for those who are digitally excluded. What really surprised me is the time it takes to complete basic daily tasks, something many of us take for granted, like booking a doctor’s appointment or navigating to a destination, because so much is now digital-first.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface of the digital divide in this series, but we’ve seen and heard first-hand from people how important connection is to everyday life and why it’s imperative to close the gap between those with and without connectivity, skills or devices.”

Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at Vodafone UK said: “We believe everyone should benefit from digital connectivity and tackling digital exclusion sits at the heart of our business. As our docu-series with Emma shows, connectivity is critical to so many parts of our lives – from staying connected to friends and family, to securing new education or job opportunities. But digital exclusion is often an invisible issue which is why we’re raising awareness of the realities of disconnection.”

“I’m proud of what our everyone.connected initiative has already achieved and the continuing work we are doing in this space to ensure no one gets left behind as society becomes increasingly digital-first.”

In episodes two and three of the series, Emma meets some of those affected by the digital divide as well as some of the charities working with Vodafone to help improve digital exclusion, including Good Things Foundation, the Trussell Trust, Independent Age and LandAid.

Vodafone’s everyone.connected campaign has pledged to help four million people and businesses cross the digital divide by the end of 2025. By viewing and sharing this three-part documentary, you can help increase awareness and end digital exclusion. Head to YouTube to view the series and find out more about everyone.connected.

As part of the proposed merger with Three UK, Vodafone has committed to retaining all current measures to support vulnerable customers impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, including social tariffs and digital inclusion campaigns.

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

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