Press release

100,000 ‘Digital Champions’ to get Britain online

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Cabinet Office has today announced the recruitment of 100,000 Big Society ‘Digital Champions’ by Martha Lane Fox.

The Cabinet Office has today announced the recruitment of 100,000 Big Society ‘Digital Champions’ by UK Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox.

The local volunteers will support millions of adults online by the time the Olympics comes to Britain. The champions are employees and users of a range of services - from Age UK to local libraries. 

Welcoming the announcement, the Prime Minister said: 

Today there are nine million adults in the UK who have never used the internet - and nearly half of them are among our most disadvantaged people. That’s why the work Martha Lane Fox is doing as the UK’s Digital Champion is so important. And it’s also why I’m so keen for everyone to get behind Race Online 2012 and its ambition to get as many people online as possible by the time of the London Olympics. 

Already we are making encouraging progress. Since Martha launched her Manifesto for a Networked Nation in Downing Street last July, we’ve seen eleven hundred partners of all sizes and sectors get on board. 

But we need to go further. And often it is the impact of volunteers that can make the biggest difference.  So today I am delighted to welcome the announcement of 100,000 new local Digital Champion volunteers - the UK’s biggest ever cross-sector volunteer force and a make a massive plea to those of you who aren’t yet involved, to sign up now. 

By supporting this vital campaign we really can become the first nation in the world to get everyone online and ensure that something the vast majority of us take for granted can be enjoyed by all of us.

The Prime Minister and Francis Maude also welcomed Martha Lane Fox’s announcement that partners of her Race Online 2012 organisation will provide new low-cost recycled computer products for the first time, helping low-income families to get online. 

Martha Lane Fox said: 

Today is a massive step forward in our ambition to create a truly remarkable digital UK when the internet is a tool that everybody can use for their benefit. Race Online 2012 always intended to solve the critical social and economic issues that arise when people are left behind as technology advances. By bringing together an extraordinary mix of cross-sector partners we aim to eliminate the three major barriers that we know prevent people from getting online - access, motivation and skills. Today we are beginning to address all of these by creating a massive local digital champion network aimed at giving people advice, support and assistance on a local level and by kick-starting a low cost recycled marketplace.

Notes to editors

The digital champion volunteer force is made up from employees and users of organisations across the public, private and charity sectors including: 

  • Post Office - 6500
  • public libraries - 5000
  • home library service - 25
  • Jobcentre Plus - 820
  • National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) - 300
  • BT - 10,000
  • John Lewis - 21,000
  • Talktalk -250
  • Comet - 3000
  • Mecca - 103
  • 02 - 350
  • UK Online centres - 20,000
  • Beatbullying - 10,000
  • Age UK - 23,000

Become a Digital Champion

To find out more about how to be a digital champion, including how to join the champion network, inspire people to start using the internet and how to signpost to great starter packages see www.helppassiton.co.uk.

The ambition of Race Online 2012 is for the UK to be the world’s first ‘networked nation’ where everyone can use the web. 

For more information on Digital Champions and low cost PC products contact will.brown@freud.com or tel. 020 3003 6471

Martha Lane Fox conducted a strategic review of Directgov in 2010. Her report, Directgov 2010 and Beyond: Revolution Not Evolution, to Francis Maude of 14 October said: 

Ultimately it makes sense to the user for all government digital services to reside under a single brand. The user should not have to navigate the departmental structure of government before finding the service or content that they need. On the web, this implies the adoption of a single Internet domain for central government.