Cellnex UK

Helping local charities and community organisations to innovate digital solutions and bridge the digital divide.


Perhaps more than anything, the pandemic highlighted the importance of technology and exposed the areas of society where digital exclusion is most prevalent.

In 2021, as part of its efforts to bridge the digital divide in rural communities, community foundations in the UKCF network partnered with infrastructure operator for wireless telecommunication, Cellnex UK.

Over two years, the partnership provided a wide range of grants to charities working on digital exclusion projects, with a focus on more rural areas in the UK.


With this support:

  • Cornwall Community Foundation awarded £18,000 to two projects to support digitally isolated people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with accessing online services.  Disability Cornwall were awarded £9,000 to run workshops on digital skills and a pilot for supporting people being discharged from hospital with accessing digital technology.  Cornwall Rural Community Charity (CRCC) were awarded £9,000 to support their existing Digital Inclusion team to provide digital equipment or internet access to older people.


  • Gloucestershire Community Foundation awarded £18,000 for three projects to support digitally excluded communities in Gloucestershire. Before opening for applications, Gloucestershire Community Foundation held an online forum to ask local organisations about the digital challenges people face in the county, areas of need and how they are supporting people with digital access, training and equipment.


  • Suffolk Community Foundation funded eight projects that included refugee support, library services, ICT training for adults with additional needs, as well as other vital services that provide or lend digital devices to members of the community without financial means.  This funding helped people find employment opportunities, complete school work, combat isolation, and improve digital skills. 


  • Two Ridings Community Foundation distributed Cellnex funding to two organisations: York Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) and Humber and Wolds Rural Association. York CVS were awarded £9,000 for the purchase of volunteer management software which would increase volunteering opportunities and volunteer support across York. Humber and Wolds Rural Association were awarded £9,000 to support village halls become more digitally inclusive.


  • Community Foundation Wales funded the delivery of two projects – Connected Communities and Digital Futures. The Connect Communities project worked with 150 older people (aged 50+) in Swansea to increase digital inclusion, skills, resources,
    belonging and wellbeing. The young people from the Digital Futures project gained access to sessions on job searching techniques, digital CV production, digital interviews, and an introduction to self employment.


  • Lincolnshire Community Foundation funded Tonic Health, a charitable organisation that works to identify and plug gaps in health and wellbeing service provision across South Lincolnshire. The funded project identified residents living in rural South Holland who are digitally excluded and ran sessions demonstrating the positive effects of using digital media, through digital training, equipment provision and internet guides.


  • East End Community Foundation provided 20 families with a device, online training and broadband connections. Through this funding, Cellnex UK has helped address the growing challenge of digital exclusion experienced by low-income families - and most acutely by primary aged children - living in Tower Hamlets.


"We are living through one of the most difficult and unpredictable times, one in which all of us, and the communities around us, are suffering on many levels. With UKCF, Cellnex UK is involved directly with communities to bring together digital skills and inclusion with practical help and is striving to reduce digital inequalities throughout the UK.”

Claire Cranton, Head of Corporate Affairs for Cellnex UK

Identifying the need

Community foundations have a far-reaching connection with community organisations and acted quickly to identify digital challenges facing people during the pandemic.


Here are some of the issues affecting communities at the time:


"Asylum seekers receive such a small amount to live on, that paying to access the internet was causing them to get into debt, or to fall behind in terms of being connected to vital help such as education and healthcare information. The impact of the lack of inclusion was having widespread negative effects on all members of their families."

- Suffolk Refugee Support


"Our beneficiaries are rurally and socially isolated and with an internet connection and/or IT equipment they feel much more a part of their wider community. For example, beneficiaries are using the grant enabled connectivity for job search, housing, study, general information, entertainment, contact with family and friends or access to other online services such as the NHS or community wellbeing activities. The grant has enabled beneficiaries to feel more reassured and more confident with
essential IT skills."

- Cornwall Rural Community Council


Each community foundation has supported multiple projects with this funding, and we are so grateful to Cellnex UK for its continued support to help tackle digital inequalities facing communities throughout the UK.


Here is what some grant recipients had to say:

“Thanks to the Cellnex grant our community IT Suite has been completed to provide our local community with access to computers and digital equipment and we have been able to partner with another local group, Brendan’s Bridge, to provide IT training to local young people from
Matson, Robinswood, White City and Podsmead areas of Gloucester, helping them to develop their skills and access employment."

- GL Communities


“One of our young people is registered blind and has multiple disabilities. She lives in a residential home, with no access to IT, and has not been out of the home for over a year. She is now being supported by Fairview Farm Enterprises and due to being supplied with an accessible keyboard, she has been able to use a laptop to find pictures of her favourite animals, look up different countries and find cooking recipes online."

- Fairview Farm Enterprises CIC