Have you helped someone get online?

It’s something many of us now take for granted, but millions of people still don’t have internet access and it is creating a divide in society. We caught up with Martha Lane Fox to find out why we should all be trying to help people get online.

Clare Francis: Back in 2010 we spoke to Martha Lane Fox, the co-founder of lastminute.com, about a new government campaign she was fronting called Race Online 2012.

MoneySupermarket’s is one of the main partners of the campaign, which aims to get the nation online, and tackle the growing divide between those that have internet access and those who don’t.

Obviously 2012 isn’t far away now so we caught up with Martha again to find out how the campaign is going.

How has the Race Online campaign gone?

Martha Lane Fox: Well I’m absolutely delighted with the commitment we’ve had from our partners. We’ve got partners from across the private, the public and the charitable sector; from organisations as diverse as the big Lottery fund through to the Scouts, to Mecca bingo, through to the BBC, Trinity Mirror, MoneySupermarket.com – a fantastic array of partners and I feel as though we’ve managed to move this as an issue that people were sort of aware of, a bit interested in, to something that now people really understand are focusing on, and that’s one very important first step.

The next step is then to encourage people to do something about it - which is why the “Give an hour” campaign was really important - and the final thing is to make sure that actually locally people know what to do and how to help, which is why the trip to Liverpool has been really important to see how to join up little community organisations with the council, with companies that are engaging with all of their employees.

What are those without internet missing out on?

MLF: Well there are some things we know as facts that people are missing out on. That’s savings – so we know that you save upwards of £200 a year if you’re online, a big number especially in this climate.

We also know that if you’re studying to get a 2 grade better degree or result and that’s a big difference as well, it can be the difference between a pass and a fail.

And we also know if you’re looking for work you’re 25% more likely to be in work and you’ll be paid more while you’re in that job, so those are pretty hard numbers.

But then you’ve got some softer stuff as well. We know that people’s confidence goes up when they go online and they feel less vulnerable, so even for a very old person who’s probably suffering from both of those things the internet, I think, can be a real lifeline.

How do we help?

MLF: It’s very easy to help people! The first thing to do is to just think “do I know anyone in my family, do I know anyone in my friends network, anyone at work that I don’t think has ever used the internet”. And I figure that because 9 out of 10 people offline know somebody that’s online, we can go a long way to helping people join up those skills.

Then they should go to the http://www.go-on, “Give an hour” website and they can get all the tools they will need, and they can see how to inspire someone, they can watch videos, they can look at case studies, it’s not complicated.

Or, do you know what – just sit down with someone. Ask them what they’re interested in and show them a couple of websites.

CF: So many of us take the internet for granted nowadays, but imagine life without it – it really would be more difficult. So if you know someone who doesn’t have access to the internet, spare a bit of time and teach them the basics. It really could transform their life, and give them access to better deals.

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