Isobel Thomas, Head of Community Engagement and Experience at Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, shares why their annual Get Online Week campaign is needed and discusses the link between digital exclusion and health inequalities.
This week, 16-22 October, is Get Online Week, Good Things Foundation’s annual digital inclusion campaign. During the week we highlight the pressing need to ensure that everyone can afford access to digital technology (devices and mobile data and broadband) and have the digital skills to make the most of the internet.
This campaign is needed now more than ever because:
- 1 in 14 households have no home internet access (Ofcom 2023)
- 2.5 million households struggle to afford fixed broadband (Ofcom 2023)
- 10.2 million adults lack the most basic digital skills (Lloyds Banking Group, 2022)
Digital exclusion and health
Health services are increasingly moving online. The number of NHS App users jumped from 22 million to 30 million in 2022 (NHS Digital 2023). But what about the millions who cannot afford internet access, or do not have the skills and health literacy to confidently use these digital services? They are being left behind. People who do not use the internet are twice as likely to have a disability or health condition compared to extensive users of the internet (Yates 2023, Ofcom analysis). Furthermore, digital exclusion makes it harder to find jobs to apply for, search around for best prices on utility bills, and increasingly access bank accounts further impacting on health inequalities.
Whilst the scale of the challenge is huge, what we’re celebrating this Get Online Week is the incredible work of Good Things Foundation’s National Digital Inclusion Network - over 3,000 organisations who are working together to fix the digital divide. This week they are running 865 events to help thousands of digitally excluded people get online all across the UK, from the northern islands of Scotland to the tip of Cornwall; and from Northern Ireland to Kent.
That’s 865 opportunities for digitally excluded people to access the help they need to get online - and just in one week alone! Think of the impact it could have if more people could access local digital inclusion support. So that’s what we’re working to do - support 1 million people through a network of 5,000 local digital inclusion hubs by the end of 2025.
At Good Things Foundation, we offer a comprehensive service for members of the National Digital Inclusion Network so that they can provide support to people in their communities. The Network is free to join and members can then access:
Our beginner digital skills platform, Learn My Way
Learn My Way is a free online platform that helps people gain basic digital skills through bite-sized topics including using a touchscreen, setting up an email account, using Government or healthcare services and staying safe online.
Devices through the National Device Bank
The National Device Bank accepts donations of unused devices from organisations. Laptops, mobile phones and tablets are securely wiped and refurbished before being sent to digital inclusion hubs across the UK, landing in the hands of those that need them.
Mobile connectivity through the National Databank.
The National Databank helps people get connected by providing free mobile data - like a foodbank, but for connectivity.
There are currently over 1,300 digital inclusion hubs providing the National Databank across the UK.
A programme of free events and training
Staff and volunteers can access our online programme of free events and training designed to build their digital inclusion capability and network with and learn from other members.
Grants from the Fix The Digital Divide Fund
Members can apply for a small grant to help them provide digital inclusion support in their communities.
Take action this Get Online Week!
This Get Online Week we urge your organisation to join our national effort to fix the digital divide - for good. If you’re not already a member, join the National Digital Inclusion Network and help people to benefit from digital services, especially digital health services. Join the Network
Find out more about digital inclusion and health.
Isobel Thomas is the Head of Community Engagement and Experience at Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity.