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Tech support to bridge the digital divide

The pandemic forced everyone to adapt to a new digital landscape as organisations rushed to move their services online. But this meant the skills and inclusion gap, which was already apparent before COVID-19, widened.

Tackling the digital divide experienced by social impact organisations, schools and families has been an important focus for Deloitte. Through initiatives like Deloitte Digital Connect, which supports charities through their online journey, and by donating over 6,800 laptops to those in need, we’re working to help address this societal challenge.

Third-sector organisations were among those hardest hit by the swift digitalisation early in the pandemic. According to the Charity Digital Skills Report 2021, just under half had no access to digital funding, and one in five cancelled services because they lacked the skills or technology to deliver them.

Many individuals also faced difficulties. People with a disability are more than twice as likely to be offline. And just 51 per cent of low-income families had internet access at home in March 2020, while 11.9 million people do not have the essential digital skills needed for day-to-day life in the UK.

Deloitte Digital Connect

To help as many people as possible, we created the Deloitte Digital Connect programme. It gives expertise and advice to charities driving societal change and supports their online development – making their services more accessible for those that need them.

Between January and May 2022, we kicked off the inaugural scheme in collaboration with CAST, a charity that helps organisations use their digital platform for social good.

With 35 charities, we shared more than 350 digital resources, ran three leadership roundtables and led workshops and masterclasses, coaching calls and mentoring sessions, providing bespoke support wherever we could.


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We also completed nine pro bono projects, including a software roll-out for youth homeless charity Depaul UK and digital strategies for The Prince’s Trust, Mind and Blueprint for All.

Of the digital leads at the charities we worked with, 74 per cent said they gained new knowledge and 52 per cent felt more confident. The virtual events also turned out to be a great networking tool, with 70 per cent of attendees making new connections in their sector.

Case study: A blueprint for the future

Blueprint for All works with young people, communities and organisations to create an inclusive society in which everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or background, can thrive​.

The charity needed to improve its digital presence for two important reasons: to grow their presence nationally and to meet the ever-growing expectations of the young people it supports. Get it right and Blueprint for All could broaden its opportunities for mentorship, career guidance and inspiration, potentially impacting more than 10,000 futures.

We put together a pro-bono project team to support Blueprint for All's journey and explored how the charity would use digital services in its work. Blueprint for All had the idea of an online resource and with our help in testing and research, the Inclusive Opportunity Portal was created.

The portal’s purpose is to reach more under-represented young people by offering digital career support. It will increase access to bursaries, inclusive career opportunities and learning resources, so more individuals can reach their career goals. It has the potential to positively impact social mobility and the UK economy.

The laptop donation scheme

In the past, we’ve donated around 100 reconditioned laptops to our charity partners, each year. When COVID-19 further widened the digital divide, we pledged 5,000 refurbished laptops to schools, charities and families – a goal we surpassed by mid-year. When we asked our people to nominate individuals or organisations that could benefit, they stepped up.

Carolyn Burroughs, Deloitte associate director, coordinated a donation for Ukrainian refugee children in Woking, Surrey, via Ukraine UK Unity CIC. This helped students keep up with their Ukrainian education and get support as they transitioned to UK schools. “Everyone was extremely appreciative – some children were in tears on receiving the laptops,” she says. “One of the mums told me her daughter had managed to catch up on all her maths and that could not have been done without Deloitte’s help.”

​Andres Mora from Caritas adds, “It couldn’t have been timelier – we were in great need of laptops. We run a mentoring scheme and online sessions for women with childcare issues who struggle to access face-to-face classes and who want to progress into higher education and careers.

”This year, we’ve donated over 6,800 refurbished laptops, including over 1,000 to refugee-support community groups and refugees living with Deloitte employees.

Tracy Wyman, director in Enabling Functions, hosts a Ukrainian family. She set up a mutual-support group for hosts in Bristol. Working parents, young job hunters and teenagers in school have all benefited.

“Through this group, we’ve distributed 100 laptops to Ukrainians in our city. The response has been amazing. ‘Life-changing,’ ‘so generous,’ ‘over the moon’ are representative reactions. One host didn’t tell the young woman she hosts about the laptop; she just called her downstairs when we delivered it. She burst into tears, telling us she’s a graphic designer who fled the war with nothing and will now be able to work. This experience has been humbling, and I’m grateful, through our firm’s generosity, to have had an opportunity to help so many people so directly.”​

Going forward, we want to continue donating devices each year to contribute towards bridging the digital divide.

“Our pupils benefitted throughout the year from the laptops donated by Deloitte. During the lockdown period, we allocated all devices to those who didn’t have a computer at home. It opened access to education again and closed the gap for some students who couldn’t make progress without a device. We’ve had many success stories from our pupils who received a laptop, including one pupil who clearly made excellent use of her device as she secured eleven A* grades, one A and one B in her GCSE examinations. The laptops continue to be used now that we are back in school, working with pupils who need some additional support.” - Jo Kemp, Fitzalan High School

“I loved being a part of this temporary community, where we shared our worries, wins and solutions. There's comfort in the solidarity of heavy workloads and the quest to be the best you can be for the organisation you work for.” Kim Creus, Vision Foundation

“The digital inclusion workshop made us realise how people excluded from our services are invisible to us.” Luke, Parallel Histories

“Thank you for the fantastic resources, wonderfully positive support and the confidence to explore digital in more creative way.” Kate Mackay, Earthworks St Albans




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