Vodafone has launched charities.connected, an initiative giving any charity in the UK the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to help the individuals and families it supports get online and improve its own digital capability.
This is part of Vodafone’s recently announced commitment to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022.
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.
The pandemic has highlighted the scale of digital exclusion and in particular its impact on the most vulnerable in society. Digital connectivity is increasingly essential to access work, education, healthcare and to keep in touch with family and friends, yet 1.5m households (approximately 6% of the UK population) are living without internet access.
Charities have faced many challenges during the pandemic. Smaller charities have struggled to offer their services digitally and, in many cases, have paused activity or stopped operations altogether.
Others have faced a lack of digital skills and technical knowledge – both within the charities themselves and in the communities they serve.
Almost half (45%) of charities reported they had to give their users devices, data or support to enable them to get online; 20% said they had to cancel services because they didn’t have the skills or technology needed to deliver them.
Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative will support any registered charity that would benefit from free connectivity, either to help the individuals and families it supports to get online, or to improve its own digital capability.
The connectivity, in the form of SIM cards offering 20GB of data plus free calls and texts every month for six months, will work in any SIM-enabled device (a phone, tablet, laptop, MiFi or dongle).
Registered charities of any size can apply. Complete a simple online application form, including information on how free connectivity will support the project and the number of people set to benefit.
Multiple SIMs can be requested and repeat applications can be made if the organisation has a range of digital exclusion projects under way.
Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director at Vodafone UK, 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.”
Helen Milner OBE, CEO, Good Things Foundation, said: “We’ve seen first-hand the challenges that charities of all sizes have faced during the pandemic, with managing cash flow, staffing and the move to online services. Many simply haven’t had the digital infrastructure in place to deliver their services effectively.
“Vodafone has done some fantastic work over the last year to help digitally excluded people get online and we think this next initiative – offering free connectivity to charities – will have a huge impact on these organisations and the communities they support.”
Connecting a million
Vodafone has a range of projects under way to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022. They include its Buy One Give One initiative and the Great British Tech Appeal.
It has also partnered with Global, the Media and Entertainment group, on a six-month campaign to raise awareness of digital exclusion and inspire the nation to get involved to help those living without devices and connectivity.
These initiatives follow Vodafone’s schools.connected programme in 2020, which gave 350,000 SIM cards to 9,000 schools and colleges across the UK to help pupils access online learning while schools were closed during the pandemic.