Press Release | 20 Dec 2021

Vodafone hits 125,000 milestone in its ambition to connect one million people living in digital poverty by the end of 2022

Vodafone has connected more than 125,000 people living in digital poverty in the UK.

  • Radio host and TV presenter Roman Kemp visited some of those we helped.
  • In the UK, 1.5m households, or approximately 6% of the population, are living without internet access [1].

Vodafone today announced it has connected more than 125,000 people living in digital poverty in the UK.

To mark the milestone, radio host and TV presenter Roman Kemp has visited some of the organisations and people impacted to highlight why tackling digital exclusion is so vital. In the UK, 1.5m households, or approximately 6% of the population, are living without internet access. Vodafone has committed to connecting one million people living in digital exclusion by the end of 2022.

Vodafone has reached the 125,000 milestone through a range of initiatives, including its:

Vodafone’s Christmas campaign is focused on tackling digital exclusion and calls on the UK to give The Gift of Connection’ and help those living in digital poverty by donating old devices. Vodafone will add six months of free connectivity and, with charity partner Barnardo’s, redistribute them to young people and families who need them.

Part of the initiative, fronted by Roman Kemp, includes a campaign to return Boxing Day to its original purpose, a day of giving. The ReBoxing Day campaign follows research that suggests British households are sitting on more than £20 billion of unused tech [3].

Rahima from Birmingham received a tablet via the Great British Tech Appeal. She said: “I was in the first lockdown with my first child and as I finished my maternity leave I found it difficult to get back into work. My self-esteem was low, and my anxiety was high. It was really hard to stay connected as I didn’t have the tech to do so.

“I reached out to my support worker at Barnardo’s who told me about the Tech Appeal and suggested I apply. It felt like in no time at all she was dropping off the tablet and I’ve not looked back. It’s helped me complete courses online which I was having trouble accessing on my phone. I’ve now been able to add those qualifications on to my CV which I hope will help me find a better job.

“And with my son, the initiative has allowed me to help him learn new things, enjoy family time, stay connected and video calls – it brings the family together.”

Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s UK CEO, said: “Connectivity isn’t a luxury these days, it’s an essential. That’s why we’ve put tackling digital exclusion at the very heart of our business. I’m delighted that – with the help of our partners, customers, employees, and the public – we’ve already connected 125,000 people.

“A huge thank you to everyone who has donated tech, signed up for Vodafone Together or applied to charities.connected so far. And if you’ve not already done so, please get involved!

“We have much more to do, but together, we can tackle digital exclusion.”

Barnardo’s interim CEO Michelle Lee-Izu said: “Many young people who don’t have access to devices or affordable internet access face huge barriers in accessing education and vital support services.

At Barnardo’s, we support some of the UK’s most vulnerable children, and are working with Vodafone UK to support families living in digital poverty – we are delighted they have now connected more than 125,000 people.

“As some people receive digital devices as gifts this Christmas, we are asking them to consider donating any pre-loved devices to the Great British Tech Appeal so we can get much-needed technology into the hands of disadvantaged children.”

Donating devices to the Great British Tech Appeal is simple, fast, and free of charge. They can be dropped off at participating Vodafone stores or you can visit www.vodafone.co.uk/techappeal to request a donation kit, including a flattened freepost box and pre-paid returns envelope.

Vodafone has a range of projects and partnerships underway to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022.

Find out more here.

– ENDS –

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 get online and 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.

[1] https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2021/digital-divide-narrowed-but-around-1.5m-homes-offline

[2] 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

[3] https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk/press-release/uk-rebox-its-old-tech-this-christmas-hoarding-20-billion-unused-devices/

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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 June 2021, we have 5G in 364 locations across Europe – 124 in the UK and 240 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. By spring 2022, our target is to make full fibre services 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

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