DCMS blog

Making every day better through charity partnerships

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Mark Evans

CEO, Telefonica O2 UK

I’m immensely proud to lead a company that defines its purpose as making every day better through personal experiences that count. Nowhere is this more true than in the diverse ways that our brand collaborates with partners and supports UK charities.

For O2 charity begins at home, as it does for many people. We are proud members of the Slough Community Business Partnership, which brings together the private, public and voluntary sectors to support the community where our head office is based. We also work closely with Learning to Work, a fantastic local charity, to offer high impact work experience and insight days for young people, helping to engage and inspire our future workforce. Every year our employees raise £250,000 for charities and good causes through fundraising and payroll giving – and we run a top up scheme to match funds raised.

Strong heritage

Our strong heritage in music has created opportunities for us to work with special charities, including Nordoff Robbins – the UK’s leading independent music therapy charity. O2 hosts an annual Silver Clef Ball which helps the Nordoff Robbins team raise vital funds to support the provision of music therapy services for those with learning or physical disabilities, mental health or other medical issues.

O2 is proud to also partner with WarChild for Brits Week, inviting some of the music industry’s biggest names to perform at intimate venues, while raising vital funds to protect children caught up in conflict.

Inspiring young leaders

Over the last seven years O2 has worked in partnership with the National Youth Agency to engage and inspire over 8,000 young leaders across the UK to run Think Big social action projects that deliver positive change in their communities. In some instances, O2’s seed funding has enabled young people to turn their ideas for social change into fully fledged social enterprises. Examples include Saeed Atcha’s Xplode magazine, which tackles negative perceptions and stereotypes of young people, and Chloe Hine’s Beat the Bullies campaign, which uses the power of music to mitigate the impact of cyberbullying.

For O2 customers with children online safety is a top concern, which is why we’re working with the UK’s leading children’s charity, the NSPCC, to help parents build the knowledge, confidence and skills to keep their kids safe online. Earlier this year, we were delighted to receive the Charity Times Award for Corporate National Partnership Champion in recognition of our work together. While awards are lovely to receive, what really counts is our constant commitment to make every day better for our customers and our communities through genuine partnerships that drive real change. Our work with the NSPCC has been no exception – we’ve combined the power of our 450 stores, over 6,000 staff and over 25 million customers, with the NSPCC’s 40 service centres, 650,000 supporters, 3,000 volunteers and 1,800 staff to make the online world safer for children and families.

Online safety

As well as working with parents, we’re encouraging others in the industry to do more to keep children safe online. For example, we’ve zero-rated access to the NSPCC website and to Childline for our customers and convened other mobile operators to follow suit. We are also a proud supporter of the Royal Foundation’s Cyberbullying Taskforce, working with other like-minded companies to tackle cyber-bullying.

Our collaboration with charities is also allowing us to harness the power of digital technology to transform opportunities for vulnerable customers. Wayra’s Fair by Design is a new acceleration programme that tackles the poverty premium: where people in poverty pay more for many everyday goods and services – such as energy, insurance, borrowing, transport and food – than those who can more easily afford them. We’re delighted to work with Big Society Capital, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others to lead this ambitious agenda to support a fairer economy for all.

We’re also working closely with RNIB to innovate around the provision of technology, services and support for visually impaired customers – including training our O2 Gurus, offering voice-activated access to MyO2 and promotion of RNIB’s In Your Pocket, a reading device designed to make accessing RNIB Newsagent and Talking Books simple.

For me, charity partnerships are one of the ways in which we’re working hard to genuinely enrich our customers’ digital lives by doing the right thing every day and making every day better.

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