Vodafone pledges millions of gigabytes of data to National Databank to connect 200,000 people across the UK
Vodafone has announced it has joined Good Things Foundation's National Databank to provide free data for community groups and the people they support.
The Newbury-based company has pledged 24m gigabytes of data, enough to provide connectivity to 200,000 people for six months.
Vodafone has worked with Good Things Foundation on digital exclusion projects since 2020 and this initiative is part of its commitment to connect one million people living in digital poverty by the end of 2022.
Good Things Foundation’s National Databank gives community groups across the UK access to free data – either via SIM cards or vouchers – that they can share with those who are digitally excluded and need support.
Recipients must be 18+ years, from a low-income household and meet any or all of specified criteria ie have no access or insufficient access to the internet at home, no or insufficient access to the internet when away from the home, cannot afford their existing monthly contract or top up.
Following a successful three-month pilot that saw more than 400 data vouchers distributed to community partners, the programme is now live in 34 centres across the UK with plans to extend it to hundreds more during 2022.
Community groups who are already a part of the Good Things Foundation’s network can apply for the connectivity later this month via the Online Centres Network section of the charity’s website.
The pandemic has highlighted the scale of digital exclusion, with the greatest impact felt by the most vulnerable in society. In the UK, 1.5m households are living without internet access according to Ofcom data.
CEO Vodafone UK Ahmed Essam said: “We’ve put tackling digital exclusion at the heart of our business with our pledge to connect one million people by the end of 2022. Joining Good Things Foundation’s National Databank is an important milestone in achieving this target and another great way to provide connectivity to grass roots organisations who can have immediate impact in the communities in which they work. Together, we can tackle digital exclusion.”
Group Chief Executive Good Things Foundation Helen Milner OBE said: “We’re delighted to welcome Vodafone to the National Databank. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the digital divide, highlighting a huge pressing social issue and leaving people with multiple social challenges left behind. It is not OK to leave millions of people locked out of the digital world.
"Our aim is to drive collaboration between public, private and community sector organisations and deliver sustainable solutions that will ultimately end data poverty in the UK by 2024. This is a real possibility. Together, we can all come together to break down the barriers causing data poverty in the UK once and for all.”
Vodafone has said that its charities.connected initiative has received applications for more than 112,000 SIM cards from 1,180 organisations, once again highlighting the extent of digital exclusion across the UK.
Charities.connected launched in August and gives every registered charity the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to improve its digital capability or help the individuals and families it supports to get online. Organisations who have applied to date support a huge range of social causes, from domestic abuse and homelessness to healthcare and learning disabilities.