Advanced Television

Sky announces £10m fund to address digital exclusion

April 11, 2022

Sky has announced a new goal to tackle digital inequality and provide support to a quarter of a million digitally excluded people through a new £10 million (€11.9m) fund.

The new programme – Sky Up – aims to support people to succeed in a digital age, ensuring that those who are most at risk of being digitally excluded are given access to the right skills, technology, and connectivity.

Sky Up will be targeted directly at supporting the two groups who are most at risk of digital exclusion in society, ensuring they are not held back by a lack of digital equity:

  • Under 25s in low-income areas – research conducted by Ofcom during the pandemic, shows that one in five school children do not have consistent access to a suitable device for their online schoolwork. Sky Up will directly support young people under the age of 25 from lower income areas through digital training, reliable internet connections, and the right equipment to allow them to learn and succeed.
  • Over 65s – the majority of people who are digital excluded are aged 65 and over, according to Age UK, and the greatest causes of digital exclusion amongst older people are lack of skills, a lack of trust, and not having a reliable internet connection. Working directly with local Age UK centres, Sky Up will be targeted at those over the age of 65 who lack the skills and confidence to get online safely, offering them advice and training to make the most of services and opportunities available online.

Announcing the opening of the first Sky Up Digital Hub, Sky’s Group CEO, Dana Strong, commented: “Digital connections can unlock opportunities for those who are most excluded. Sky Up will give people in need a chance to create a better future.”

Sky Up will deliver 100 new Digital Hubs, powered by Sky’s broadband network and partner with local charities in the heart of the community to provide free internet access and digital skills support. Sky Up’s first two Digital Hubs will be located in Hackney in East London, and Leeds in Yorkshire, and will be delivered in partnership with Badu Sports and Age UK respectively.

Alongside Sky’s ambition to create 100 new Digital Hubs, Sky Up will include:

  • Sky Up Tech Grants – targeted to help young people between 16 and 25 who have left the care system to get and stay connected through a £550 individual grant. The recipients will receive a personal tech device pre-loaded with relevant software, an internet connection through Sky, and access to skills training.
  • Through a major expansion of Sky Up Academy Studios, Sky aims to engage 20,000 students a year in its successful Academy Studios initiative which has already inspired 167,000 young people looking to work in the creative industries. The programme will be expanded to a new site at Sky Studios Elstree and will be taken on the road to communities across the UK through a new e-vehicle mobile studio.

Sky’s ambition is part of parent-company Comcast’s ‘Project UP’ – a comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and build a future of unlimited possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach tens of millions of people over the next decade, Project UP encompasses the programs and community partnerships across our organisation that connect people to the internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation.

The Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Chris Philp MP, said: “Everyone, no matter their age or background, should be able to enjoy the huge benefits of digital technology – from learning, entertainment, shopping and doing business. I welcome Sky’s ambitious skills programme to tackle digital exclusion and help thousands of people up and down the country access the growing benefits and opportunities of going online.”

Nana Badu, CEO and founder of Badu Sports, commented: “During lockdown we all truly understood the gap in digital equality for the most underserved communities. The new Sky Up digital studio in Hackney is an important solution to start closing that gap. We are delighted to be partnering with Sky who are seeking deeper impact when it comes to tackling digital inequality.”

Iain Anderson, CEO of Age UK Leeds, added: “We are very grateful for the support provided by Sky. This is a fantastic opportunity to support many older people to become digitally connected and to develop new skills. By having this facility, we will be better placed to reduce loneliness by enabling older people to remain socially connected and to assist them in accessing a range of services which are increasingly only available online.”

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