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BT, Home-Start offer free broadband to vulnerable families

June 28, 2022

BT has extended its support for families worst hit by the cost-of-living crisis by partnering with family support charity Home-Start UK to offer 2,500 financially vulnerable households’ free devices and free connectivity to Home Essentials. The social tariff will also be available to families in need nationwide through the ‘Connected Families’ scheme available through Buttle UK and Barnardo’s following a pilot scheme in partnership with the Department of Education.

Home-Start supports families with young children across the UK who are facing a range of challenges. Now, local Home-Start branches are also being gifted 500 Samsung tablets to help their volunteers reach more families and develop new ways to support families who need it.

BT is stepping in to help some of the families most in need and unable to afford home broadband. The move is set to provide those in need with a connection that helps unlock access to educational resources and job opportunities online and help people make the most of life in the digital world and learn new digital skills. BT will be working with Home-Start UK to distribute devices to families supported by local Home-Start branches across the UK giving them access to BT’s social tariff and a fixed broadband connection. Families in temporary accommodation, with no fixed address or those in need of emergency support are being given mobile devices and prepaid SIMs to ensure that everyone can make calls and get online.

In addition to the Home-Start UK partnership, BT is joining forces with charities including Buttle UK and Barnardo’s to trial the ‘Connected Families’ scheme to give more families access to the internet through Home Essentials.   This follows a pilot in partnership with the Department of Education, to give some of the lowest income and hardest to reach families fully funded broadband with BT Home Essentials.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said: “BT’s purpose of Connecting for Good is at the heart of what we do, and having an affordable fixed broadband connection is fundamental to quality of life. We need to find sustainable ways to make the internet a level playing field for all. That’s why it’s been great to have run a trial in partnership with the Department of Education, and now we’re proud to join forces with Home-Start, as well as Buttle UK to get BT Home Essentials to those who need it the most.”

Peter Grigg, CEO at Home-Start UK, added: “Families need to be digitally connected to access crucial services and create the best start in life for children. Research with our Home-Start network shows how a ‘digital divide’ leads to isolation for the most vulnerable children and families. Over half (51 per cent) of Home-Starts say that the cost of data creates a barrier to families engaging online and 48 per cent of Home-Starts report that not owning a laptop or tablet stops families connecting. Digital access and skills are increasingly part of participation in society, and so we’re incredibly grateful to BT for helping Home-Start families. This exciting programme will reduce sources of stress for families, help meet the costs of digital data and kit, and build digital confidence and skills which we know will all make a difference for parents and their children. It’s fantastic that keeping families connected is at the heart of our partnership with BT.”

Joseph Howes, CEO of Buttle, said: “We have been delighted to work with BT to provide access to home broadband for the families and young people we work with.  In a survey of frontline professionals, we conducted in 2021, 57 per cent of families they work with were reported as struggling to access the internet. This lack of access affects so many areas of life, but for those that are already struggling it means increased isolation, challenges accessing key services and shopping as well as the impact on children’s education. We have seen how offering the Home Essentials package is helping to address this, as has been the work we have done with BT to allow our Chances for Children grants to fund broadband contracts on behalf of the most vulnerable families. We have been very impressed with the thoughtful way in which the team at BT have dealt with those that are struggling on low incomes, and in particular those in the customer services team.”

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