BT’s support for the Digital Inclusion Charter
From Christopher Greenwood, Business Development Director, BT Global Services
We’re getting people online across the UK and beyond. Our products and services are opening doors for people who haven’t had a lot of opportunities.
Over 25 million premises can now get access to fibre based products and services – that’s around 85% of the country. We’re committed to even faster speeds, and expanding this reach even further.
We’re helping to equip people with the digital skills they need to access internet services and to make the most out of getting online. Simply connecting people brings tremendous social and economic benefits.
But we want to go further, by offering tailored products and services that can make a real difference to the people that most need support. We aim to help 10 million people overcome social disadvantage by 2020 through the benefits our products and services can bring. We’ve already helped 2.6 million since announcing this ambition in 2014/15.
Around the world, we’re developing services that add social value and increase our revenue. This commitment to shared value is part of our business strategy.
We’re targeting disadvantage caused by social exclusion, lack of education, unemployment – and challenges related to age and disability.
Since 2014/15 we’ve helped 2.6 million people overcome disadvantage through the benefits our products and services can bring. Our ambition is to increase this to 10 million by 2020.
We’ve developed a social impact methodology to calculate the social value of products and services and tested it on four products and services this year. In one case, we found that remote communities in Colombia will reap economic benefits totalling £1.8m a year from delivering the digital inclusion programme known as Vive Digital.
We’ve already reached around 85% of UK premises with fibre-based products and services. And we’re on track to help take coverage to 95% and beyond.
We chaired a UK Government working group to create the Digital Inclusion Outcomes Framework, to measure the benefits of digital inclusion and promote further investment.
Here, in Wales we have a long history of working with partners to deliver digital inclusion programmes. We understand the skills, knowledge and passion our people have can have a real impact on organisations and communities. That’s why we encourage our people to get involved and we give three days paid leave for people to carry out volunteering activities.
We are proud to have supported Digital Communities Wales in 2015/ 2016 and we continue to support the various partners working on the Digital Resilience programme running in Gwynedd.
Having a local presence helps us work with smaller organisations and enterprises. For example, Geraint Strello who is BT’s Welsh language policy manager, is a volunteer Board member of Antur Waunfawr, a social enterprise which helps adults with learning difficulties. Through BT’s support and working with partners, he has been able to develop a Digital Inclusion programme that will help transform the way that adults who have difficulty in communicating make choices and communicate with others.
Huw Davies, deputy Chief Executive of Antur Waunfawr, said “Thanks to Geraint’s help and contacts, we have been able to work with BT to develop this exciting project which already has made a big difference to our beneficiaries”
Geraint said “Today, most people take technology for granted as they have the skills to use it effectively. However, this is not the case for some and it’s great to be able to work with groups to make the benefits of technology available to people who may otherwise have missed out. Having the support of my employer gives me the confidence to develop these programmes and I get a great sense of achievement when I see the benefits they bring”.
The BT Wales team will continue to work with local partners to develop and deliver exciting and innovative digital inclusion programmes ranging from developing apps to help young people with special educational needs to supporting young people in deprived communities of Wales to ensure that we help as many people as possible can benefit from technology.