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In association with O2

Changemakers 2022: Digital inclusion

These are the Changemakers fighting to make sure everyone is included in the digital world and breaking down barriers for vulnerable people.

In association with O2

Every year, The Big Issue takes the time to remember the triumphs of our Changemakers, the people who selflessly dedicate their time to making the world a little bit better. We want to celebrate the Changemakers and thank them for all that they do.

In the ever-advancing technological age, while many of us have mobile phones in our pockets, not everyone has access to computers, smart devices or WiFi.

These are the Changemakers fighting to make sure everyone is included in the digital world and breaking down barriers for vulnerable people.

Campaigners against voter ID 

When Neil Coughlan went to vote at a local government election in 2019, he was asked to show photo ID. Since then, he has been working on a legal challenge against the government’s plans to introduce voter ID as part of the Elections Bill 2021-22. Coughlan, who lives in Witham, Essex, and doesn’t own a passport or driving licence, thinks the plans are “dangerous” and threaten democracy. 

He said: “I feel that these measures will unfairly discriminate against not only myself, but also others in a similar position across the district and beyond, who are unable to provide with the same ease, identification that ministers and civil servants take for granted and naively think we all possess.”

An estimated 3.5 million voters (7.5 per cent of the electorate) do not have any photo ID. Once Coughlan has raised £80,000 in legal fees, expect to see him take the case to the Supreme Court in 2022. 

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Meanwhile politics graduates Freddie Mallinson and Jack McAteer set up Hands Off Our Vote. The duo believe the government should be making it easier for everyone to participate in elections, not harder. One of the reasons so many people don’t have any form of photo ID is that they cost money to buy. Mallinson and McAteer are campaigning to convince MPs to rethink voter IDs so that everyone can continue to participate in democracy.  

This social change charity is on a mission to end data poverty with a vision of everyone benefiting from digital connection. Covid has exposed and exacerbated the digital divide, which sees those without mobile data locked out of essential services and support, jobs, savings, health and wellbeing – even staying in touch with loved ones.

Good Things Foundation 

The Good Things Foundation has been working with Virgin Media O2 to distribute more data and is campaigning to get others in the industry on board. Each year the charity runs a digital inclusion campaign called Get Online Week. 

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Being Woman  

This non-profit set up a Response and Resilience Fund to help families not only struggling with Covid restrictions, but unable to feed their families. The charity was supplying food boxes to those most in need. After being awarded a grant from Good Things Foundation, the team set up a 24-hour accessible digital platform, and realised that an app would make the process easier for everyone.

Their vision was for families ordering food or supplies, volunteers collecting and packing food parcels, or staff maintaining the records to be just a click away from each other. The app is due to be launched in 2022. 

Third Sector Lab 

Digital inclusion doesn’t just mean making sure disadvantaged people can benefit from technology, but ensuring people working in charity and support services can make the best of it too. Digital strategy and design for organisations doing good is Third Sector Lab’s bread and butter.

As well as creating websites and social media campaigns for the third sector the organisation, founded by Ross McCulloch, trains staff and volunteers to embrace the digital world in their fight to lift people out of hardship. It’s a cause which will only grow in importance in 2022 with more of public life moving online. 

Check out our other Changemakers for 2022 here.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine out this week. Support your local vendor by buying today!

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