Boosting digital skills around the world

Our support through Skills for Tomorrow extends beyond the UK. We use our global reach to empower the next generation to make the most of life in a digital world. With our global charity partners, we’re helping to educate and enable young people through tech, reaching some of the world’s most marginalised groups. 

UNICEF child with mobile phone
UNICEF child with mobile phone

  • Worldwide, Covid-19 lockdowns forced 1.5bn children out of school in 2020. We provided support for Unicef’s global digital education platform, including contributions from our colleagues’ fundraising last year. We’re also working with Unicef to bring robotics to life in South African primary schools, and to support youth-led community projects and digital skills training in Brazil. The pandemic has slowed progress, but further rollout of these programmes is expected in 2021. 

  •  India, a key international market for BT, faced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns this year. This hindered progress on our programmes with NGO partners, which are mostly delivered in local communities and schools. Millions without internet access in rural and semi urban India were particularly at risk of being left behind. But new approaches enabled young people to continue to learn online using messaging groups, digital content, virtual and self-learning modules – and offline through community radio, television, and mentoring and support via mobile.

Partnering with charities

We’ve used our tech and expertise to help generate over £720m for good causes since 2012/13, including £18m this year alone. This year colleagues have donated over £2.4m through payroll giving to causes they care about, benefitting 1,373 charities. Over the last four years our people have donated £10.8m through Payroll Giving which we’ve topped up to more than £12.5m. 

  • This year, the Covid-19 pandemic created unprecedented need for charitable support across the UK and beyond. We used the power of tech and the passion of our volunteers to support charity partners and communities with devices, connections, vital funding and digital skills training. As a founding patron of the National Emergencies Trust, we helped fund its operating costs so it could raise funds to help over 13,000 charities get essentials like food, shelter and mental health support to millions of people who needed it fast. So far, the appeal has raised over £97m.

    BT Sport customers donated over £1.1m to NHS Charities Together and we raised over £14,000 for the Trussell Trust to distribute food and essentials in the UK. Colleagues across the globe volunteered for over 600 hours, and donated more than 5,000 food items and over £40,000 to stock their local food banks. Our colleagues in India raised over £50,000, including matched corporate funding, for local charities serving those most affected by lockdown. We also donated £15,000 to support Unicef’s Covax appeal which aims to deliver 2bn Covid-19 vaccines for health workers and some of the most high-risk people in low and middle-income countries. The BT Supporters Club donated over £1m in emergency grants to provide stability to 19 charity partners in the UK and internationally. Its seven-year partnership with Comic Relief raised over £12m for sport for change projects in the UK and abroad, directly benefitting over 313,000 people. This partnership has now come to an end as we strengthen our focus on charity partnerships that build life-changing digital skills.  

  • Despite Covid-19 limitations on in-person volunteering, over 1,800 of our colleagues volunteered their time and expertise to help out this year. Some did so virtually, supporting partners like Education & Employers and TeenTech. Our colleagues’ annual Gradventure fundraiser brought in over £5,800 for TeenTech’s youth programme and we sponsored its 2020 digital skills award. We also launched an FA Playmaker volunteer force to support our 4-3-3 partnership with the home nation football associations. These football-loving colleagues stand ready to help their local community clubs once it’s safe to do so.