Vodafone launches new initiative to to connect individuals and families
A new initiative has been launched by Vodafone to give charities the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to help the individuals and families they support get online and improve their own digital capability, writes Aneesa Ahmed.
The initiative, ‘charities.connected’ , was designed to assist any registered charity that might benefit from free connection, either to assist the people it serves in getting online or to increase its own digital capacity.
Registered charities, of any size, can apply for the free connectivity, in the form of SIM cards with 20GB data, plus free calls and texts every month for six months.
The application process involves an online application form where charities must detail how free connectivity will support the project and the number of people set to benefit. Charities are able to repeat applications and request multiple SIMs if the organisation has a range of digital exclusion projects under way.
This is part of Newbury-based Vodafone's recent announcement that it will combat digital exclusion by connecting one million individuals by the end of 2022.
The pandemic has drawn attention to the scope of digital exclusion, as well as its impact on the most vulnerable members of society.
Cambridge University has highlighted the impact that digital exclusion has on individuals and families as it can set people back in an ever-changing digital world.
Despite the fact that digital connection is becoming increasingly important for accessing employment, education, healthcare, and keeping in touch with family and friends, 1.5 million homes, or about six per cent of the UK population, do not have access to the internet, according to Ofcom 2021.
Vodafone says it wants to help charities due to the numerous challenges that they have been facing throughout the pandemic.
Smaller charities have struggled to provide digital services and, in many cases, have suspended or ceased operations entirely.
Others have a lack of digital skills and technological expertise, both within their own organisations and within the populations they serve.
According to Skill Platform 2021, 45 per cent of charities said they had to provide devices, data, or assistance to their customers in order for them to get online, and 20 per cent said they had to terminate services because they lacked the expertise or technology to offer them.
Vodafone hopes that its charities.connected initiative will help them tackle this problem in the digital age.
Vodafone UK general counsel and external affairs director Helen Lamprell said: “At Vodafone, 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.
"We hope that by giving free connectivity to charities across the UK, we can enable them to better support their local communities, particularly those that are digitally excluded.
"We want to support projects big and small – please help us share this offer so we can reach as many charities as possible.”
Applications for charities to receive their free SIMs via the charities.connected initiative can be made at https://www.vodafone.co.uk/mobile/everyone-connected/charities-connected