Digital support charities to merge

Charity

Two digital support charities are merging in a bid to better support digitally isolated people and create a stronger impact.

Citizens Online is being merged into AbilityNet on 1 July.

Citizens Online has operated since 2000 to help organisations ensure their digital programmes are fully inclusive.

AbilityNet, which was formed in 1985, focuses on helping disabled and elderly people benefit from technology at home, work and in education.

The charities said they shared a common goal of bridging the digital inclusion gap and improving lives through technology, especially for disabled people.

“By combining resources, expertise and passion, the joint charity will achieve even better results in boosting digital inclusion,” the charities said.

Citizens Online had an income of £568,628 in its latest accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2023, while AbilityNet reported an income of £5.7m for the financial year ending 31 December 2022.

Citizens Online has 10 employees, seven of whom will be transferred to AbilityNet. The other three will be made redundant. 

AbilityNet had 68 employees at the time of the agreement and the charity said no cuts will arise from the merger. 

Helen Dobson, who has been managing director of Citizens Online since October 2020, will step down as the transition takes effect.

Citizens Online said its website would remain in place for the “foreseeable future” but the joint activities would be promoted under the AbilityNet brand.

Gary Moore, chief executive of AbilityNet, said: “By combining our two organisations, we aim to distil the best of Citizens Online and AbilityNet’s knowledge and resources to help our beneficiaries.

“This should also make us more efficient, improving the offer to our supporters and customers.

“There are substantial synergies between the two charities; each has a volunteer model; provides external digital training courses; distributes digital devices to community organisations; and both charities work closely to support older users.”

Hugo Drayton, chair of Citizens Online, said AbilityNet was a “like-minded organisation” to further the mission of the charity.

Drayton said: “I am immensely proud of what the charity has achieved in the last quarter-century and look forward to the continued growth of this impact within the AbilityNet family.

“I am confident that this move will secure and expand the future for our work.”

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