Winners 2023

Best community initiative

Three Discovery

While digital technology has transformed our everyday lives, it has also left some people behind. Launched in 2014, the Three Discovery programme offers free digital skills training courses to communities, businesses and individuals that are being digitally excluded from society. 

Its aim is to make mobile technology accessible and enjoyable, and to empower and educate people of all ages and abilities to develop some of the core skills needed for a digital world. It is available to all, whether a customer of Three or not.

The programme is aligned with the Essential Digital Skills Framework, which was developed by the Department of Education, to ensure the sessions support a wider journey of learning.

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the service, relaunched in a phased manner from June 2022, with Discovery in Store. Since then, more than 27,000 Discovery one-to-one sessions have since taken place, offering advice ranging from getting started on a smart phone to photo editing and digital security.

From that summer, four dedicated Discovery specialists went out into the community to deliver 1,300 digital workshops for 42,000 people, including children and teachers, while bespoke leadership training was given to more than 5,000 people, including scout leaders.

And in December 2022, the Discovery team helped to launch Three’s Connected Communities campaign, a pilot scheme to equip three youth clubs across Leeds and Birmingham with 5G broadband for two years and up to ten tablets as well as offering learning sessions to support digital skills development and help tackle the digital divide.

Such was the success of the pilot that Three is now looking to roll out the programme to youth clubs in Hull, Liverpool and Manchester. It is inviting applications, and will select two youth clubs at random – which its tech team will visit to check whether the 5G coverage is suitable.

And on 12 May 2023, Three offered Still Got I.T free digital training to senior citizens in all its 297 stores. This initiative was launched in the wake of a survey which revealed that 48 per cent of people aged 75 or over owned a smartphone while 36 per cent wanted to know more about the technology. Almost half – 48 per cent – said they believed technology helped their brain tick over.

Three invests in Discovery because it builds internal engagement, supports wellness and develops skills sets but also because it is a tangible way for its people to make a difference in the communities in which they work. This is not a scheme to drive sales, but to give back.

An independent survey of schools that participated in Discovery workshops found that digital creativity among students increased from 6.13 to 8.67 (out of ten), digital communication skills from 6.22 to 8.19, digital collaboration skills from 5.92 to 8.46 while digital content creation skills increased from 6 to 8.54.

The judges were impressed, adding that the initiative ‘supports the local community and engages both employees and community in a very relevant skill, increasing confidence and job opportunities. It has a tangible impact.’