Residents of a social housing pilot, announced by Mayor Andy Burnham, will receive free Vodafone SIMs as part of the company's everyone.connected campaign to tackle digital exclusion.
A thousand disadvantaged or vulnerable residents of a pioneering new social housing pilot programme in Greater Manchester will receive free Vodafone SIM cards, ensuring they can stay connected to loved ones, public services, education and other opportunities.
The social housing pilot, announced by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham at the Connected Britain conference in London, aims to be a national blueprint for ensuring that residents of social housing have an internet connection.
Residents from four demographics – over 75s; jobseekers aged 25 or younger; disabled people of any age; and financially vulnerable people of any age – will receive SIM cards from Vodafone’s everyone.connected programme. Southway Housing Trust will identify residents in need of SIMs and distribute them, as well as support residents with any digital skills training that they may need.
Addressing the conference Mayor Burnham said: “With regard to digital connectivity… it is one of the essential utilities that people have to have, and if you don’t have it then your life is, in many ways, held back. When you went past some of our fast-food outlets with kids crowding outside to try and get the WiFi, that told us something wasn’t right.
“To get that crown of the UK’s leading digital city, what actually should that mean? It’s more than just the number of digital and tech jobs or the number of blue-chip players you have within the city region, it’s more than the infrastructure.
“We aspire to be a city region where everyone has got day-to-day connectivity so that they can take care of their finances, do their homework, find work, find opportunity, book appointments from public services.”