A UK National Databank has been developed by Good Things Foundation with support from Virgin Media 02 to help 40,000 people get online.
The issue of data poverty became more apparent during the Covid-19 lockdowns when work, education, and activities moved mostly online. During this time, Ofcom researched the affordability of communications services in UK households. They found that two million households struggle to afford their internet bills.
As well as affordability barriers to accessing internet, the Children’s Commissioner estimated nine per cent of families in the UK do not have a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.
The National Databank provides free sims, mobile data, talk minutes, and texts to people in need via the Good Things Foundation’s network of local community partners. Community organisations can apply to access the databank, enabling them to provide data to people in their communities who need it.
Digital inclusion is a social determinant of health and being excluded from digital participation can contribute to health inequalities. Being online is the easiest (and sometimes only) way to fully participate in social, economic and political life. It covers so many aspects of daily life, from online socialising, to online banking and meetings.
A lack of access to the internet can therefore also impact other factors which affect our health including social connections, and access to good jobs and a secure income. These factors all have an impact on our life expectancy and how long we live in good health (healthy life expectancy).
The UK National Databank brings free mobile internet data to people who can’t afford it and who are often also experiencing multiple inequalities.
Three Mobile, Virgin Media O2, and Vodaphone have pledged to distribute one million gigabytes of data via the National Databank. As the cost of living continues to increase and more people are facing difficult choices of what necessities they can afford, Good Things Foundation is calling on the rest of the UK’s mobile networks to join them.
People’s Health Trust has been working with Good Things Foundation to support our network of funded partners to build greater digital inclusion in their neighbourhoods.