Tackling Digital Poverty in Ireland

NortonLifeLock helps launch Empower’s Connect & Include Initiative
Nov 25, 2020 12:15 PM ET

By Amanda Davis Sr. Manager, CR and Environment



To help combat digital poverty in Ireland, NortonLifeLock has partnered with Empower, a charity focused on social inclusion, local development, and addressing digital inclusion in Fingal. NortonLifeLock is taking part in the Connect & Include Initiative, a campaign aimed at ending digital poverty in Fingal.

As a world leader in consumer Cyber Safety, our vision is to help Empower reduce Ireland's digital divide in a safe and sustainable way. In the first stage of the Connect & Include pilot, NortonLifeLock has donated 15 laptops and 50 Norton 360™ software products and provided a financial grant. In addition, several Dublin-based NortonLifeLock employees ran a “Train the Trainer” cyber safety education session for Empower employees and Aster Family Support employees.

The Connect & Include pilot, launched November 20, has supported 643 people and focused on three areas with support from NortonLifeLock: working with 15 schools facing educational disadvantage in Dublin; working with 9 children and family services across Fingal; and working with jobseekers at the Open Doors Initiative and Diageo’s human resources team.  

A deeper look at digital poverty

It is easy to assume that everyone has access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and that people have the skills to know how to use technology and use it safely. In reality, this isn’t the case and digital poverty hinders many people and communities.

Digital exclusion is not a new issue – in 2019, the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) recorded that only 53% of Ireland’s population have basic digital skills. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this issue has become absolutely urgent.

As people rise up to meet the challenges of the pandemic they are leaning heavily on the digital world in new and evolving ways. Today, people must rely on having technology and having digital skills to obtain job support, health resources, participate in online learning, and more.

Unfortunately, many people cannot afford hardware, software, and connectivity, or do not have access to digital skills training and face a widening disadvantage. As an example, NortonLifeLock’s recent ‘Pandemic Parenting’ study[JC1] [2]  showed that across Europe, a significant portion of families could not afford the technology needed to support online learning; for example, 34% in the UK, 28% in Italy, 26% in Germany, 25% in France, and 24% in the Netherlands. Additionally, while families with devices saw a huge increase in time online, over 2 in 3 felt very concerned about their child’s exposure to online risks.

The Connect & Include pilot offers holistic services

Empower understands that donating a laptop to someone in need is often not enough to address the challenges they face. If the recipient does not have the money for basic software, cannot access broadband, or does not have proper training, there is little they can achieve with the laptop itself. Therefore, the Connect & Include Initiative offers tailored, holistic support to families and individuals with whom they work, providing hardware, software, connectivity, training, and digital literacy support depending on their needs

So far, the Connect & Include pilot has:

  • Supported 354 people from Fingal with hardware, software, connectivity, digital education;
  • Engaged 66 children in remote learning; and
  • Engaged 223 people in job related training.

NortonLifeLock believes that we can be part of eradicating digital poverty and helping keep people’s digital lives safer, and plan to continue to donate hardware, software, and cyber safety education to this initiative. We could not be happier to be teaming up with an established force for good like Empower, which is working to build inclusive, vibrant communities while providing a chance at a better life for people in Fingal. 

Through our new partnership in the Connect & Include Initiative, we’re excited to help them succeed.

To learn more about how NortonLifeLock supports the communities where we live and work, read our 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report.

To learn more about the Connect & Include initiative, which aims to raise €250,000 to provide hardware, software, connectivity, and digital literacy support to lift 500 young people, families, and individuals out of digital poverty, visit https://empower.ie/