Viewpoint | 02 Dec 2022

‘We’ve provided connectivity to 1 million people in need – now we want to reach 4 million’

As Vodafone reaches its goal to provide connectivity to one million digitally excluded people by the end of 2022, Vodafone’s UK Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer explains why the campaign is so important and how the company plans to extend it.

We said we’d make tackling the digital divide core to our purpose as a company, and we meant it. And so, as we reach our one million milestone, I’m immensely proud of the team that made this happen, but also not surprised.

When we really put our minds to something and work together as a team – our colleagues along with our brilliant charity partners – we can deliver amazing results.

But I’m cautious about sounding too self-congratulatory. The digital divide still exists – 1.7 million households in the UK remain digitally disconnected. There’s plenty more work to do.

Which is why it’s really exciting to be extending the everyone.connected campaign, building on the one million milestone and pledging to help a total of four million people cross the digital divide by 2025.

You’d think by now we wouldn’t need reminding how essential connectivity is and just how debilitating digital exclusion can be. But research we’ve commissioned reveals that three-fifths of people surveyed think digital exclusion is just about affordability, when it’s so much more than that.

Those who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide can be all ages, all nationalities, and from all walks of life: unemployed, sick, homeless, lonely, fleeing from war, victims of domestic abuse or online bullying, or just confused by the modern world.

This is why we teamed up with celebrity photographer Rankin to bring this point home and raise awareness of the wide range of people digital exclusion can affect. Each of the scenarios behind these moving ‘Faces of Disconnection’ photos tells a different story, but all of them vividly illustrate the reality of the digital divide for too many people.

Vodafone and Rankin join forces to raise awareness of the Digital Divide  

Series of royalty-free images highlights the “invisible” issue affecting millions in the UK.

It was a privilege to attend the launch event for this ‘Faces of Disconnection’ series on 1 December and celebrate reaching the one million milestone with our colleagues, charity partners, journalists and leading public figures. We’re doing well to bring the importance of this issue to the forefront of people’s minds. We’re making this invisible issue visible.

But while the free SIMs and repurposed smartphones we provide through our everyone.connected and Great British Tech Appeal campaigns are critically important, so is giving people the skills and confidence to use these devices safely and well.

So I’m excited that Vodafone is extending its relationship with Good Things Foundation (GTF) and entering a new three-year strategic partnership to support further delivery of our shared ambition to fix the digital divide in the UK.

We will help expand GTF’s National Digital Inclusion Network to over 5,000 organisations by providing basic digital skills support to excluded people in local communities across the UK. This comes on top of our pledge to donate 24 million GB of data to GTF’s National Databank.

We’re also working with the Trussell Trust and Citizens Advice to offer SIMs to those calling the Help through Hardship helpline. This is delivered in partnership by the two charities and provides advice and support to people who are worried about money and struggling to afford the essentials.

We have to ensure that our donated connectivity is reaching the people who really need it and that our digital skills training is helping them use it effectively.

It feels right to celebrate reaching our one million milestone, but equally important to acknowledge publicly that our everyone.connected mission is far from complete. Closing the digital divide is at the core of our purpose as a business and we remain firmly committed to continuing this campaign until the issue no longer exists.


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