Press release: AbilityNet and Citizens Online charities announce merger

On 1 July 2024 AbilityNet and Citizens Online charities will merge, joining forces to support more digitally excluded people, and create stronger impact.

Citizens Online logoBoth charities share a common mission: to bridge the digital inclusion gap and improve 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.

A complementary offer

Citizens Online charity has worked to improve digital inclusion since 2000. AbilityNet traces its accessibility roots back to 1985: it is a national charity which focuses on helping disabled and older people to gain the maximum benefit from technology at home, work and in education. 

AbilityNet is one of the UK’s leading providers of digital accessibility services to organisations that offer digital applications and services, with a broad portfolio of services, including consultancy, conducting digital audits and user research, and providing expert training and strategy guidance.

Citizens Online has a complementary consultancy offer, to improve digital transformation and inclusivity; it strives to embed digital inclusion, to ensure that the impact is sustainable. It builds local partnerships and works collaboratively to share best practice to improve digital inclusion. 

Gary Moore, CEO, AbilityNet:

“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: 

“In AbilityNet, I am confident that we have found a like-minded organisation, to further the mission of Citizens Online. 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.” 

Alan Brooks, Chair of AbilityNet Board of Trustees: 

“We are delighted to welcome the staff, sponsors and beneficiaries of Citizens Online to the AbilityNet family. Our trustees have been very impressed with the impact which Citizens Online has achieved throughout its 24 years of operation. It has been a strong campaigner for greater digital equality and has delivered against that vision for thousands of beneficiaries. With our combined resources, we will be able to achieve greater impact for the people we seek to help.”  

Steps forward

Citizens Online is being merged into AbilityNet, leaving one overall charity with one board – AbilityNet. Citizens Online operational staff have now joined AbilityNet and existing Citizens Online projects will continue and expand. The Citizens Online website will remain in place for the foreseeable future, but the joint activities will be promoted under the AbilityNet brand.

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Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact: 
Annie Mannion, Digital Marketing Manager, AbilityNet
Mobile: 07812 144 192

About AbilityNet

UK charity AbilityNet has more than 25 years’ experience of empowering disabled people through technology. In its mission to create a “digital world accessible to all,” it champions inclusive digital design, and its experienced consultants empower the private and public sectors to deliver accessible websites, services, and apps. AbilityNet offers free IT support at home and online to older and disabled people via its nationwide network of 450+ AbilityNet tech volunteers. Access the free service on AbilityNet's website, or call the helpline 0300 180 0028.

AbilityNet also runs TechShare Pro, Europe’s largest accessibility gathering, which attracts sponsorship from organisations including Microsoft, Google, Meta, Intuit and more. The Charity’s Patron is Baroness Martha Lane-Fox. 

About Citizens Online

Citizens Online works to ensure that no one is left behind in today's digital age. It supports people to develop digital IT skills, access devices and data. The charity runs a UK freephone helpline that anyone can call to get support. It also works with local service providers and funders to focus on changing digital inclusion from being a ‘bolt on activity’ to a way of working that is embedded in everyday best practice. The charity aims to make digital transformation more inclusive and reduce the risk of exclusion. 

Further resources 

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people. If you can afford it, please donate to help us support older and disabled people through technology