Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, discusses the many ways the company is helping the country recover from the coronavirus health crisis both economically and socially.
As the Government gradually begins to ease lockdown restrictions, Vodafone UK stands ready to help the UK get back to work.
We’ve worked hard to help the country stay connected during the health crisis; now we want to help rebuild our economy as life gradually returns to relative normality.
We’re doing this in a number of ways.
A leg up for small businesses
The lockdown has been tough, particularly so for the UK’s five million small businesses – the bedrock of our economy. We were really keen to give them a leg up on the road to recovery as a way of saying thank-you. So it’s fantastic to hear that our six months of free broadband offer is being warmly welcomed by the small business community.
This comes on top of our commitment to paying all our small and micro suppliers within 15 days. And even when things return to normal, we’ll continue to abide by the Prompt Payment Code, paying small suppliers within 30 days.
But we want to do more.
We’re also looking at how we can offer free advice to small businesses to help them through this crisis – how to build an e-commerce-ready website, say, or how to market their businesses effectively online.
So watch this space for further announcements soon.
Re-opening our stores
We’re excited to be re-opening our retail stores around the country – four in Northern Ireland this week, and 61 in England from 15 June – helping our franchisee owners get back on their feet and those customers who prefer face-to-face support to receive the kind of service they want.
Of course, we’re doing this responsibly – click here to read about all the precautions we’ve taken to keep our retail colleagues and customers as safe as possible.
Heat detection camera
Our Heat Detection Camera is helping businesses open their offices again in a safe way. It can spot people with an abnormally high temperature that could be a sign of COVID-19 or another infectious disease. Early detection, as people enter a building, will help prevent infection spreading through the office.
I’m delighted to say our sporting partner Wasps Rugby Club has installed one of these Internet of Things-enabled cameras at their Broadstreet training facility in Coventry to help safeguard staff and players as they return to training.
It’s great news that Premiership and Championship rugby clubs across the country have been given the green light to return to non-contact training – subject to various safety measures.
Our camera should really help – another impressive example of Vodafone innovation.
Improving our networks
And of course, we’re continuing to ensure our network is robust and stable enough to keep connecting people during this transition period, as some venture back into offices and others continue working from home. Our networks have coped really well with the unprecedented rise in voice and data traffic.
We’re continuing to roll out our 5G network that will be so important in kick-starting the digital economy, and we’re forging ahead with the Shared Rural Network to improve 4G coverage in rural areas.
Helping those who need help the most
We’ve also worked hard to support disadvantaged and vulnerable people with devices and connectivity, and we’ll continue to do so after the lockdown, because connecting people is our mission.
There is, sadly, a digital divide in this country, but we’re determined to address it through initiatives like our Great British Tech Appeal.
We’re encouraging everyone to donate their unused smartphones and tablets so that they can be refurbished, equipped with Vodafone SIMs, and distributed to low-income families across the UK.
Kids from disadvantaged backgrounds shouldn’t be deprived of an online education or the connectivity that many of us take for granted.
So I’m really pleased with the way we’re responding to the huge challenge our country faces. We’ve been keeping the UK connected and proudly doing our bit as a part of Vodafone Group, which has donated €100m (£89m) in goods and services during the coronavirus pandemic.
And we’re going to keep connecting as many people as we can, helping our customers through this crisis and on to the economic recovery.
Stay safe and keep connecting. Better days are coming.