DevicesDotNow helps those with no internet access, who find it hard to stay in touch and access essential online services during lockdowns.

011_Staying-Connected-Through-The-COVID-19-Pandemic

Smartphone ownership reached a peak in the UK in 2019. With 89% of people now having access to a handset, many of us take for granted the ability to access essential services and connect with others whenever we like.

Yet, against this backdrop of increasing connectivity, 1.9 million households in the UK have no access to the internet. And, for many more, meeting the cost of staying connected can be difficult. For those without access to technology, restricted access to opportunities and services is a growing problem that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the pandemic hit, many vulnerable people of all ages found themselves isolated in their homes, unable to contact their loved ones or access essentials like food, prescriptions and money. In response, the organisation FutureDotNow created DevicesDotNow, an emergency campaign to help those with no internet access. The campaign asked businesses to donate funds, devices (tablets, smartphones and laptops) and connectivity. Teams then prepared and delivered them to those in need, together with socially distanced support to get online.

Supporting the campaign

As part of the campaign, Deloitte donated 278 laptops to the NHS and our One Million Futures charities. We also provided strategic support, in the form of Deloitte senior manager Holly Chate, who provides ongoing pro bono advice to FutureDotNow.

“There was already a waiting list of over 8,000 people known to the organisation who were digitally excluded, so there was no time to waste in getting a device to those most in need” she said. “It was a real team effort. As the programme manager, I created structure and provided clarity on the priorities, and was responsible for ensuring our teams worked together in an integrated way and at pace.”

Key priorities were raising awareness of the issue in the media and with key government departments, and mobilising fundraising efforts with major grant givers, many of whom were offering emergency grants during the crisis. Within the first four months, multiple fundraising bids were submitted, resulting in £1.4m in funding.

“Our crowdfunding and social media campaign #4faces4devices raised the profile in the public eye. This, together with powerful print coverage and media appearances on BBC Breakfast and BBC 5 live, helped us to achieve £12k in individual donations.”

The funding was essential to achieve the campaign’s aim of getting devices to people as quickly as possible. By August 2020, over 4,720 people received a device and a further 7,162 people got theirs this autumn. The initial target was 10,000.

Holly is now on secondment as FutureDotNow’s Chief Operating Officer.

The legacy of the DevicesDotNow campaign will live on through the work at FutureDotNow, which will continue to champion the economic importance of digital skills and digital inclusion. FutureDotNow brings together industry partners and Government to accelerate digital upskilling through coordinated industry action, in support of a 100% digitally included UK.

View our Annual Report here and discover the many other ways we’ve made an impact in 2020.

Want to find out where your ambition could take you? Explore careers at Deloitte here.

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