In the UK, two million households struggle to afford internet access, and 10 million adults lack even the most basic digital skills. That’s why Virgin Media O2 is donating £2 million to the Good Things Foundation, a digital inclusion charity.
The new three-year partnership aims to tackle digital exclusion by helping one million people, including those on low incomes and most affected by the cost of living crisis, minority ethnic groups, low-skilled workers and older people, to access free connectivity, devices and digital skills training.
The financial support will help people unable to use the internet carry out essential tasks such as sending emails, accessing online services, including booking medical appointments, applying for jobs, taking part in virtual interviews or accessing online education or training programmes.
Free digital skills
Helen Milner, Group CEO of the Good Things Foundation, said, “By the end of 2025, we want to engage one million people, helping them to benefit from the digital world, and support 5,000 digital inclusion centres across the country to meet local needs.”
To meet this challenge, Virgin Media O2 and the Good Things Foundation will work together to extend access to free digital skills training and free O2 mobile data via the national database to more communities across the UK.
In addition, they will provide data, devices and digital skills training to some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities through the Good Things Foundation’s National Databank and National Device Bank.
The Device Bank provides free refurbished smartphones and tablets to people in need, as well as community support to build digital motivation and confidence.
All actors will also share best practices with other organisations working to improve digital inclusion across the country.
This commitment to tackling digital inclusion builds on Virgin Media O2 and the Good Things Foundation’s pioneering National Databank initiative, launched in July 2021 -similar to a food bank, but with free mobile data, texting and calling.
Virgin Media O2 is also donating over 61 million GB of free O2 data to the National Databank to help those most affected by the cost of living crisis stay connected.
The initiative is also part of Virgin Media O2’s Better Connections Plan, the company’s new sustainability strategy to create a better, more connected, greener world for everyone.
Nicola Green of Virgin Media O2 added: “Through our new sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan, we are working to create a better, more connected country for everyone, and we are providing data and devices to those most affected by the cost of living crisis so they can get connected and stay connected.”
Finally, Virgin Media O2’s partnership with the Good Things Foundation is just one way it addresses digital exclusion in the UK. The company’s Community Calling initiative, created in collaboration with environmental charity Hubbub, has handed over 10,000 smartphones to people in need and provided a share of £400,000 to five charities to run a pioneering device loan scheme, providing tablets and data to those in need.