Another year fixing the digital divide: 12 achievements in our 12th year

Our Group CEO, Helen Milner OBE, reflects on some of our best moments of 2023 - with highlights from our team, partners and the National Digital Inclusion Network.

And just like that, we’ve come to the end of another year. Time flies when you’re fixing the digital divide! I’m so thrilled with the year we’ve had. We’ve made huge strides towards creating a digitally inclusive society – from reaching 1000 Databanks, to bringing another Strategic Partner on board, we’ve achieved so much and I feel proud of all the milestones we reached in 2023.

To celebrate our 12th year, here’s my 12 highlights from 2023! 

1. We grew the National Digital Inclusion Network

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! Our partnership with the National Digital Inclusion Network is the heart of Good Things and everything we do. This year, it has grown tremendously. We were so pleased to welcome more than 1,300 new local partners to the Network in 2023. This means there’s more places for digitally excluded people to access support and get online, affordably, safely and confidently. 

This takes our total number of Digital Inclusion Hubs up to over 4,000 across the UK. I’m so grateful to all the hubs working hard day in and day out with excluded people. All the local partners who feel part of the movement – the “Big Club with a Shared Vision”; the shared vision of fixing the digital divide for good!

2. We took part in the House of Lords digital exclusion inquiry

At the start of the year I was lucky enough to give evidence to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee’s for their digital exclusion inquiry. This really was much more exciting than it sounds! We also took Baronesses and Lords from the Committee to visit Skills Enterprise, one of our wonderful Digital Inclusion Hub partners in London, where they were able to see first-hand the impact of hyperlocal digital inclusion support.

We were thrilled to see so many of our recommendations make it into the Committee’s digital exclusion report, including that the Government should donate their used tech for social good and invest more in digital skills. Despite being rather disappointed by the Government’s response, (you can read my full response to their response here), this has only spurred us on to drive more action towards digital inclusion. Great work by the Lord’s Committee for raising the profile of digital exclusion and not being shy in being critical of the lack of action from the current Government. 

Read more about what we’re calling the Government to do.

3. We reached 1000 databank locations across the UK including 250 O2 Stores

In March we celebrated a very special milestone… we reached 1000 Databank hubs! The first cross-sector collaboration of its kind in the world, the National Databank allows organisations in the National Digital Inclusion Network to give free SIMS and mobile data to vulnerable people in need. So far, there have been 214,539 SIMS given out, helping thousands of people get connected. 

Virgin Media O2 also recently made 250 O2 stores Databank hubs and has expanded the Databank to charities Crisis and Change Please – Driving for Change, offering data and devices to people experiencing homelessness. It is brilliant to see the Databank evolve like this and I can’t wait to see how much more we achieve with it in 2024!

At the end of the year we can now celebrate over 1,500 databanks. Amazing!

4. We welcomed Nominet as our third Strategic Partner

This year also saw the addition of our third Strategic Partner, Nominet! We were so pleased to bring Nominet on board to help accelerate our strategy and build on our work together on Devices Dot Now and the Data Poverty Lab. Nominet’s donation of £4.5m over three years to Good Things will mean we can achieve so much towards fixing the digital divide. I love this partnership and look forward to continuing to work with them. 

For sake of completeness I also love our strategic partnership with Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone. 

Find out more about our partnerships

5. We launched a new and improved Learn My Way 

After many months of hard work from our brilliant tech team, we launched the next generation of Learn My Way, our free online platform for beginner digital learning. This version allows users to tailor their own learning programme, offers over 100 super-simple bitesize topics and is accessible across multiple devices. Learn My Way is unique as it’s so simple, with a very low reading age, and is targeting the very beginner rungs of the basic digital skills ladder. I’m thrilled to see that there are more than 2000 Digital Inclusion Hubs that have used Learn My Way. Together, we’re breaking down barriers and opening doors for digitally excluded people. 

Huge thank you to for their funding to help us not only develop the new version of Learn My Way, but also to experiment with different ways in which we could promote online learning to people with very low digital skills.

6. We supported more than 25,000 people through Get Online Week

October 2023 saw our 17th Get Online Week get underway, and what a week it was! Get Online Week sees the National Digital Inclusion Network host hundreds of fun, inclusive and accessible events that help their local communities get online. This year, we supported over 25,000 people through more than 870 events

There were also almost 1,000 events run by our sister charity in Australia, making Get Online Week run 24 hours a day (well almost) on two sides of the globe!

I have no doubt that Get Online Week 2023 will have transformed the lives and experiences for these people, helping them find the support and resources they need to stay connected to society and access essential services. 

7. We launched the Fix The Digital Divide Fund

In Autumn 2023, we launched our exciting new Fix The Digital Divide Fund – bringing together our digital inclusion grant offer into one simple package. The fund enables members in the National Digital Inclusion Network to access flexible grants that meet their and their community’s needs. 

Alongside other grants we’ve been able to give out we’ve supported over 250 local hubs with £2m this year. Alongside our Strategic Partners, thank you to JP Morgan,, YBS, and HMRC for helping not just Good Things Foundation but our local hub partners too. 

Community intervention is the key to digital inclusion and reaching people most in need. That’s why I’m delighted that we’re able to support members in the Network to embed digital inclusion into their service offer. 

8. We’ve distributed 6,000 refurbished devices and helped to avoid 964,674.91 CO2 emissions through the National Device Bank

Saving the planet and helping to fix the digital divide was on our agenda a lot this year. I’m so proud to say that we’ve distributed over 6,000 refurbished devices via the  National Device Bank this year. That means over 6,000 more people with a device in their hands, where they otherwise were unable to access one.

Devices donated are professionally, securely and sustainably wiped and refurbished, paired with data, and distributed to people in need through the National Digital Inclusion Network. We welcomed numerous more organisations as device donors this year, including Ocado Group, Microsoft and the People’s Partnership!

If you’re looking for a secure, sustainable and socially responsible way to dispose of your corporate tech, then learn more about donating

We also launched two important reports, Circular electronics for social good: Reusing IT equipment to bridge the digital divide and Public Sector Pioneers: Reusing IT equipment to bridge the digital divide. Both reports highlight the barriers and enablers for organisations to reuse tech for social good.   

9. We featured in Vodafone’s ‘Disconnected’ documentary series

Earlier in the year, Vodafone launched their Disconnected documentary series with Emma Willis, a three part YouTube series which shines a light on the reality of the digital divide. We took part in episode 3, where Emma visited Digital Inclusion Hub, Diversity House, to meet the people they support and see firsthand the impact of digital inclusion. It was fantastic to bring national attention to digital exclusion and raise awareness of our work. 

Watch the full documentary series

10. Get Online London continued to make an impact as support is turbocharged for Londoners

In partnership with the Mayor of London and the London Office of Technology & Innovation (LOTI), and hundreds of community partners, we continued to deliver Get Online London, London’s first ever digital inclusion service. I’m over the moon about the impact it has had so far! Get Online London now has over 600 community partners delivering digital inclusion services, and together we have given out 44,627 SIM cards and 3,490 devices to Londoners in need, as well as helping with basic digital confidence and capability. Get Online London is helping people and the planet; the London device bank has prevented over 2.5 million CO2 emissions, a number which will continue to grow in 2024. 

11. We attended Labour and Conservative party conferences – and wore sandwich boards

In October, with our sandwich boards on our backs (and fronts), we attended both Labour and Conservative party conferences to raise awareness of digital exclusion and try to catch the attention of the key players. With ‘£13.7 BILLION BENEFIT TO THE ECONOMY, TO FIX THE DIGITAL DIVIDE’ plastered across our chests, we got the attention we were looking for. From people telling us that their relatives are digitally excluded, to those commending our work and others challenging our claim, I was thrilled that our statement led to lots of insightful conversations. 

Read our Conservative Party conference highlights

Read our Labour Party conference highlights

Our hubs also got involved with our advocacy work this year! In the summer, 60 hubs attended our virtual Action Session to write to their local MP to learn how to  invite MP’s to visit them – and many hubs had success!  Northern Rights welcomed Emma Lewell-Buck MP from the Labour party and Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support Team Wales (EYST), who met with Geraint Davies, MP for Swansea West. 

I’d like to say a BIG thank you to the hubs who took part, the impact of these engagements cannot be overstated. They fuse policy-making with lived experiences, and have the ability to increase the urgency of the problem. 

Read more about how hubs engaged MP’s with digital exclusion

12. 100% of Good Things staff feel like they’re making a difference

All of this work couldn’t have been achieved this year without the wonderful Good Things team who all work so hard to deliver our strategy. I was so pleased to see that 100% of Good Things employees feel that they’re making a difference here and look forward to another year working together to fix the digital divide. 

Thank you to all the staff, the Board at Good Things (who are brilliant), and all of our partners. Merry Christmas to all, and looking forward to working with you in 2024 to fix the digital divide for good.

Helen Milner

Helen Milner OBE

Group Chief Executive

Helen Milner OBE is the Group Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation. Founded as a staff-led mutual charity in the UK in 2011, Helen led the establishment of a subsidiary charity, opening an office in Sydney in August 2017, and running the Be Connected Network for the Australian Government.