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Vodafone commits to connecting one million people living in digital poverty

Young children looking at a tablet

Vodafone is committed to tackling Digital Exclusion

As part of their long-term ambition to combat digital exclusion, Vodafone have committed to get one million people online by the end of 2022.

Delivered through a range of programmes such as the Great British Tech Appeal and Buy One, Give One they will be providing people in need with a SIM card loaded with 20GB of data plus free calls and texts each month for a full year. To ensure they go to those who need it most they will be distributed through the Trussell Trust's UK network of food bank centres. 

red hands made from blocks open as if to catch something

UK-wide campaign backed by Lions, England and Saracens rugby star, Maro Itoje:

Lions, England and Saracens Rugby Union star, Maro Itoje, will be partnering with Vodafone over the next three years to continue raising awareness of the digital divide and what can be done to tackle it.

“I’m extremely proud to be the ambassador for this brilliant new Vodafone initiative, helping give connectivity to many people in desperate need and raising awareness of this huge issue in our society,” said Maro.

“Vodafone’s work during the pandemic stood it apart – and it’s fantastic to see this work continuing with a long-term commitment to make this change for good and fix digital poverty together.”

The Trussell Trust, whose network distributed an unprecedented 2.5 million emergency food parcels over the last year, will use its 1,300 food bank centres across the UK to distribute the SIMs to people who could benefit most from the free connectivity. In the last five years, the need for food banks in the UK has risen by 128%, and research in 2020 found that 95% of people at food banks in The Trussell Trust network were destitute, meaning they were unable to afford to eat or stay warm and dry.

red logo that says buy one give one with a hand catching a SIM card

Connectivity is often a luxury these households cannot afford.

Ahmed Essam, Vodafone UK CEO, added: “Over the last year, people across the UK have realised just how important connectivity is, and the major role it plays in many aspects of our lives – work, play, education, healthcare and keeping in touch with those closest to us.

“We have supported many people since the start of the pandemic – the NHS, schoolchildren, people on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

“Today we are committing to helping one million more people get connected, and to developing the knowledge and confidence necessary in a society that increasingly demands a digital connection. Buy One, Give One puts tackling digital poverty, and doing the right thing, at the heart of our business.”

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said: “Over the last year, we’ve seen more people than ever struggling to afford the basics and forced to use food banks to get by. This isn’t right. We know households at food banks have, on average, only £57 a week after rent to cover their living costs, and one-in-five have no money coming in at all.

“In a society which depends on readily available internet connectivity to gain access to vital support, such as Universal Credit, having a smartphone isn’t a luxury – for many, it’s a lifeline.”

Vodafone tackles Digital Exclusion

About the author

Digital Everyone

The Digital Everyone project is part of Salford’s aim to become a Digital City, an ambition which forms part of our wider vision for a better, fairer Salford to improve resident’s lives.

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