Family support charity Home-Start UK has announced a partnership with BT to provide volunteering support that will help families stay connected online.

The pioneering partnership will give BT colleagues the opportunity to support families across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and help tackle the UK digital skills challenge where currently 17 million people lack the essential skills needed to work and thrive in life.

Peter Grigg, Chief Executive of Home-Start UK

As part of the partnership, BT will take on a range of volunteering and fundraising initiatives, aimed at boosting the skills and confidence of children and families to better navigate the digital world. BT volunteers will work with staff across the network of more than 180 Home Starts with a strong focus on helping disadvantaged families feel more confident with technology.

Peter Grigg, Chief Executive of Home-Start UK, said: “We are absolutely delighted to partner with BT. The digital divide and access to digital technology is one of the biggest challenges faced by our families.

Not having the skills, confidence or even the right sort of tech means many people are locked out of applying for hardship grants, locked out of helping their children with home-schooling, bidding for a new council home, applying for benefits or making a GP appointment.

“Many services expect people to go online, but if you don’t have the confidence, skills or connectivity to do this, not only is it extremely stressful but also, sadly, some people give up.”

Professor Kerensa Jennings, Senior Adviser, Digital Impact at BT, said: “BT is thrilled to partner with Home-Start UK to help children, families and those who need it most stay connected and feel more confident with technology.

Countless aspects of our home lives and working lives are online – if we struggle to make the most of life in the digital world, we are missing out on so much. At BT, we connect for good, and so many of our colleagues are looking forward to getting involved with mentoring families and fundraising to help tackle the digital divide.”

More details will be shared in the coming weeks.