In the UK, it is estimated that around 1.5 million people have a learning disability.

Vodafone teams up with learning disability charity for Connected Living initiative

By Leontina Postelnicu
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Credit: Vodafone UK

Vodafone has partnered with UK charity Mencap to launch an initiative that aims to improve the quality of life for people with learning disabilities through the use of technology.

During the past year, the Connected Living project has been trialled in 48 of Mencap’s supported living services in Hampshire, Sussex, Somerset, Cornwall, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk.

The aim is to make day-to-day tasks easier by putting IoT-enabled devices in homes, such as activity sensors and smart locks, which can be controlled by residents through an app called MyLife.

Designed with people with learning disabilities and their support workers, the initiative has been launched through Vodafone Business Ventures, the telecoms giant’s social enterprise division.

WHY IT MATTERS

Around 1.5 million people in the UK are estimated to have a learning disability. Of these, approximately 350,000 are said to have a severe learning disability, and the figure is thought to be rising, according to the NHS.

At the beginning of July, Helen Lamprell, general counsel and director of external affairs at Vodafone UK, gave an insight into their new project with Mencap at the company’s 5G launch event in London.

“The project has so far connected 30 care homes using smartphone IoT technology and helps support workers provide personalised care, give people with learning disabilities more independence, confidence and choice,” Lamprell said, putting emphasis on the “critical need for this kind of social innovation” amid growing pressures.

“By 2030, one in 5 people in the UK will be aged 65 or over. Connected assistive technology, very much like we’ve developed with Mencap, could play a central role in how we build and adapt houses, allowing people to live independent lives far longer,” Lamprell added.

ON THE RECORD

Commenting on the new project, Amit Chakrabarti, head of Vodafone Business Ventures, said in a statement: “Vodafone Business Ventures was created to enable us to work with a range of partners to incubate and commercialise innovative propositions that have a strong social impact and bring them to market.

“Connected Living is a great example of what can be achieved when working with partners like Mencap, co-designing and adapting existing products and services to fit the specific needs of a user group, delivering a visible difference in quality of life including greater independence and accessibility.”