Max Taylor, Vodafone's UK Consumer Director, explains the philosophy behind the company's Christmas TV ad campaign and its pledge to connect one million people by the end of 2022.
The pandemic shone a light on what we already knew – digital poverty is still a big problem in the UK. Around 1.5 million households do not have access to digital connectivity, and roughly half of those affected are children.
So we’ve made it our mission to address this social injustice, because connectivity isn’t a luxury these days, it’s an essential. So much of our lives is managed online. And socially disadvantaged young people in particular need connectivity to apply for jobs, courses and to access mental health services.
With our charity partner Barnardo’s, we set up the Great British Tech Appeal, asking the public and businesses to donate devices they no longer use. We threw in six months’ worth of free connectivity, including data, calls and texts. Thanks to your generosity, Tech Appeal has now connected more than 7,500 people who were digitally excluded across the UK.
And just so you know how important these donated devices are – how they really can change lives – read about the impact Tech Appeal has had on two young people. We also extended our Appeal to help refugees coming to the UK from Afghanistan.
Many of us have drawers cluttered with old phones and tablets that are perfectly serviceable once refurbished, so I urge everyone to have a look around, send off your old gadgets, and really make a difference. You can find details on how to do this here.
But we’ve gone further than the Great British Tech Appeal. Much further. We’ve pledged to connect One Million people living in digital poverty by the end of 2022. Our everyone.connected campaign includes Tech Appeal, but also our Buy One Give One initiative with partner 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.
And our One Million campaign also includes charities.conected, which 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. We’ve also offered free connectivity to schoolchildren, students, and local authorities.
Mission to connect
So our Christmas campaign, themed around giving ‘The Gift of Connection’ this Christmas, is a natural extension of this mission to connect those in need.
We’re giving you the chance to be Santa this year and make this first Christmas after the pandemic lockdowns a really special one to remember. Many of us will be reuniting with our families, having parties and lots of festive fun, giving presents and sharing the love.
By donating your old devices, you can make someone else’s Christmas really special, too. It’s a lovely, really practical gesture many of us can make. I’ve already donated several of my own devices!
We really believe in this cause and are absolutely committed to connecting the disconnected and creating a digital society we can all share in. It’s fundamental to our purpose as a company. And giving new life to old smartphones and devices is environmentally friendly, too.
Everyone can take part
We’re going to be encouraging as many people as we can to give the Gift of Connection over the coming weeks, including our own board members and colleagues. And the great thing is, you don’t even have to be a Vodafone customer to take part. Watch out for some high-profile figures donating their devices, too.
We know the generous spirit of you, the great British public, will shine through this Christmas and make this wonderful season even more special.