With the season of giving upon us, O2 is further committing itself to supporting the digitally excluded by donating 2,000 devices and 12 months of free data to vulnerable people across Manchester.
The UK’s largest mobile network is expanding its partnership with charity Hubbub, with the aim to gift 2,000 unused smartphones to vulnerable individuals in Manchester.
The Community Calling campaign is a lifeline for people who are digitally disconnected and struggling as a result of the pandemic. Following a successful first trial which saw smartphones donated in a handful of London Boroughs, the campaign is now rolling out to locations across Greater Manchester, helping people to get connected in the wake of rising inequality, poverty and employment challenges.
As part of the campaign, O2 will be donating 12 months of free connectivity to the beneficiaries, which will include unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data per month for a full year.
Digital connectivity has been vital this year: preserving economic output, helping businesses adapt and keeping us close to the ones we love. However, too many people are digitally excluded, without access to devices or connectivity. It was recently revealed that 2.7 million UK adults (5%) were unable to access the internet in the three months before August – a problem which has been amplified in our socially distanced era, preventing people from accessing family, friends or other essential networks of support.
O2 and Hubbub are working closely with Manchester City Council to identify beneficiaries, who will also be able to access digital skills training at local support centres, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to thrive in the longer term.
With over 40% of Manchester’s population under 35 and 1 in 3 children living in poverty, the donation drive is extremely timely for those in need. O2 and Hubbub are working closely with local organisations across the region, including Young Manchester, Stepping Stone, Community on Solid Ground and Manchester Youth Zone to reduce the digital divide and help people get connected this Christmas and beyond.
One beneficiary of the Community Calling campaign is Colette who lives in Rochdale and has been in and out of homelessness for 25 years. She is now living in temporary housing and back in touch with her family. Her new device will be the gateway she needs to keep her connected to them, as well as her support workers. Eventually, she hopes it will help her back into employment.
All beneficiaries will also be able to access digital skills training at local support centres, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to thrive in the longer term.
Mark Evans, Chief Executive of O2, said: “Connectivity has been vital to keeping the country running during the pandemic, but if you’re unable to get online you’re likely to miss out on a lot of support. We’ve already seen the positive impact Community Calling has had on vulnerable people in London – providing a lifeline for those most affected by the pandemic, so we’re pleased to announce this expansion, starting in Manchester. This campaign reflects our broader commitment to be there for our customers and the wider community, whenever they need us.”
Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-Founder at Hubbub, said: “It’s been heart-warming to see the positive impact receiving a smartphone through the Community Calling project has already had on so many people’s lives. Being connected to loved ones and accessing essential services is easily taken for granted, but is still not a reality for too many people. We’re excited to be working with O2 to expand Community Calling to other cities including Manchester to get more people connected and prevent unnecessary electrical waste. We’re calling on individuals and businesses with spare smartphones to donate them to somebody who needs a device to stay connected at this difficult time.”
Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, said: “The pandemic has brought into sharp focus just how beneficial the internet can be for everyday tasks and for keeping in touch with family and friends. We’ve been working extremely hard to ensure that as many of our residents as possible have the opportunity to use digital technology, providing laptops to vulnerable residents and friendly one-to-one support to learn to use them where required, while also keeping our libraries open in a Covid-safe way to provide essential internet access. We welcome this additional support, which will make a real difference to the lives of thousands more Mancunians, and also encourage anybody who has a smartphone they no longer require to donate it to Community Calling via one of our libraries.”
Gift your phone
Anyone in the UK can get involved by donating unused smartphones. It’s easy to sign up online – you’ll receive a free-post donation kit to post your old and workable smartphone, to be refurbished by trusted partner Recono.me. It will be data-wiped, sanitised and redistributed with user guides and PAYG SIM cards. Alternatively, those who don’t have an old smartphone can choose to donate the cost of one or two month’s top-up for the beneficiaries by visiting hubbub.org.uk/donate-data-to-community-calling-resources.
O2 and Hubbub are also encouraging businesses to support the campaign by organising bulk device donations, offering financial contributions that can be put towards purchasing second-hand phones, or providing collection boxes in their offices (where appropriate).
Manchester libraries will act as drop-off venues, so please bring your old unwanted working phone there. To find out more about library services and the location of your nearest open branch, go to www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries.
If you’d like to support the campaign and donate your old smartphones to Community Calling, visit http://www.hubbub.org.uk/communitycalling/ for more details.
The Council also manages a digital inclusion support service, which is available to people who have the internet at home but need help with their skills or confidence to use it effectively. To access the service, text 07860 064 128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a name and area of Manchester where you live, to allow a local digital volunteer to call back.
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 ONS August 2020 Internet Access Report
Hubbub is an award-winning charity and social enterprise that inspires ways of living that are good for the environment – disrupting the status quo to raise awareness, nudge behaviours and shape systems. Their aim is to revolutionise communications with the public about environmental issues – using everyday language and good design to make environmental actions desirable and tapping into things people are passionate about such as food, fashion, homes and neighbourhoods. This innovative approach saw Hubbub win the Charity of the Year Award at the prestigious Charity Times Awards in 2020.
Since its formation in 2014, Hubbub has delivered more than 60 trailblazing environmental campaigns in collaboration with over 700 partners, helping to shift the national debate on key environmental issues such as food waste, sustainable fashion, air pollution and recycling. Hubbub’s campaigns include #LeedsByExample which brought together 25 of the UK’s largest companies to boost recycling on the high street, a 3-year partnership with IKEA to create the world’s largest consumer-facing sustainability campaign ‘Live Lagom’ and creating a Network of 100 Community Fridges across the UK, each redistributing on average 1.5 tonnes of food every month that would otherwise have gone to waste.