28 Jul 2022

Vodafone halfway to connecting One Million as part of its campaign to close the digital divide

Vodafone and performance poet Sophia Thakur call on the UK to help ‘close the divide’ by searching everyone.connected to see what support is available and how they can get involved.

  • 500,000 milestone reached, as cost-of-living crisis increases the need for free connectivity.
  • Award-winning performance poet and author, Sophia Thakur, pens ‘The Divide’, an emotive spoken word poem to highlight the impact a lack of connectivity can have.
  • Vodafone and Sophia call on the UK to help ‘close the divide’ by searching everyone.connected to see what support is available and how they can get involved.

As part of its long-term commitment to close the digital divide, Vodafone has reached the half million mark in its campaign, having donated 500,000 free connections to people across the UK. As the need for free connectivity grows as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, Vodafone wants to raise awareness of the issue and its everyone.connected programme. The programme provides people with a free SIM with 20GB of data a month, for six months – plus unlimited calls and texts – through a network of charity partners.

Despite over a million households living without access to the internet, only 1-in-5** people are aware of the issue. As a champion of the cause, Vodafone commissioned award-winning performance poet and author, Sophia Thakur, to pen an emotive poem to highlight the impact digital exclusion can have. Her performance, entitled ‘The Divide’, shows how ‘simple’ everyday actions such as booking a GP appointment, applying for a job or paying a bill are almost impossible when you don’t have what most of us take for granted. She paints a picture of a group excluded from society, looking on from the sidelines, not being able to take part – just because they aren’t connected.

Sophia said: “With each passing day we see the world becoming more dependent on connectivity, but we often forget about those who are living without it. Reliable connections can help more people to access even the most basic things that many others take for granted. I hope that, through the work Vodafone is doing and by raising awareness of the issue of digital exclusion, we can fill the gap and close the divide.”

Vodafone enhances VOXI For Now social tariff to boost support for those in financial hardship

The VOXI For Now tariff, on Vodafone’s VOXI brand, will give unlimited 5G data, calls and texts for just £10 a month to anyone receiving benefits.

Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s UK CEO, said: “We hope our partnership with Sophia will drive more understanding of the issue we are so passionate about. Her beautiful words and performance are designed to help people understand what it might feel like to be disconnected so they can help anyone they know who might be in that situation. We’re proud our everyone.connected programme has reached the half million milestone, but we know there are many more people out there who need help. As the poem says, connection shouldn’t be a luxury.

We couldn’t do this without our charity partners and would like to thank them for all they are doing to get connectivity into the hands of those who need it most.”

The 500,000 milestone marks the halfway point in Vodafone’s commitment to connect one million people experiencing digital exclusion by the end of 2022, as part of its wider everyone.connected programme. The figure has been reached through Vodafone’s partnerships with charities such as The Trussell Trust, Barnardo’s and Good Things Foundation, as well as the huge number of charities that are part of its charities.connected programme.

Across the UK, the breakdown of free connectivity provided is as follows:

Figures correct as at 27 July 2022.
Figures correct as at 27 July 2022.

As well as its everyone.connected campaign, Vodafone is also committed to providing affordable connectivity to those struggling most with the cost of living. Vodafone’s £10 a month ‘VOXI’ For Now low-cost mobile tariff is available to anyone claiming Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance. It includes unlimited 5G data, as well as unlimited calls and texts.

ENDS

How Vodafone's everyone.connected campaign is tackling digital exclusion

Nicki Lyons, Vodafone's UK Director of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, explains how the company is fulfilling its mission to connect the disconnected and support vulnerable people.

Notes to editors

everyone.connected is made up of a number of programmes – all working together to get connectivity into the hands of those who need it:

  • The Great British Tech Appeal is simple: the public or businesses donate old smartphones or tablets, Vodafone adds the connectivity, Barnardo’s gets them to the people who will benefit most. Simply bring in old devices to a Vodafone store or apply for a pre-paid donation envelope online. So far, it has connected more than 8,000 young people.
  • Buy One Give One is an initiative with partner The Trussell Trust. For every customer who signs up for Vodafone Together – our mobile and Pro Broadband package – we’ll give connectivity to someone in need for up to a year. The SIMs will be distributed via Trussell Trust food banks and enable us to provide critical connectivity to people when they are in a moment of crisis. This can be a lifeline to allow people to stay connected to loved ones and access vital services to help them step out of poverty.
  • charities.connected gives any charity in the UK the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to help the individuals and families it supports to get online and to improve its own digital capability. Registered charities can apply for the free connectivity, in the form of SIM cards with 20GB of data, plus free calls and texts every month for six months.

**Vodafone Research polling 2,000 UK adults, 72Point, November 2021

About Sophia Thakur

Sophia is an award-winning performance poet and author. Her debut book was Somebody Give This Heart a Pen and her second book was Superheroes which she wrote with Stormzy as part of his album launch. Sophia’s next book Wearing My Mother’s Heart, which will be her second poetry collection, will launch November 3.

She has most recently been announced as one of the Forbes Under 30 for Arts and Culture within Europe for 2022.

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 also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of March 2022, we have 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. 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. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 26 UK towns and cities, rising to 35 over the coming months, through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach. Our full fibre services are now available to more than eight 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.

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693

Email: ukmediarelations@vodafone.com

Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews

Website: https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk

Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587