The season of giving may be behind us, but O2 is further committing itself to supporting the digitally excluded by donating 2,000 devices and 12 months of free data (6GB per month) to vulnerable people across Leeds.
O2 is expanding its partnership with charity Hubbub, with the aim to gift 2,000 unused smartphones to vulnerable individuals in Leeds and the wider West Yorkshire region.
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 and Manchester, the campaign is now rolling out to locations across Leeds, 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 over the past 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 2020 – 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 Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority 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.
One beneficiary of the Community Calling campaign has recently received refugee status, and his two children have struggled with schoolwork due to a lack of IT equipment at home. Providing him and his family with a device will help support his children in their education.
O2 and Hubbub are working closely with local organisations across the region, including Damasq UK, Leeds Poverty Truth, Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange, and
Richmond Hill Elderly Action, all in partnership with 100% Digital Leeds to reduce the digital divide and help people get connected during Lockdown and beyond.
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 and Manchester – providing a lifeline for those most affected by the pandemic, so we’re pleased to announce this expansion to Leeds. 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 Leeds 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.”
Councillor James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Leeds City Council is delighted to see the Community Calling scheme launch in Leeds. We know how important it is to stay connected with friends, family and support services, especially in the current climate. Our 100% Digital Leeds programme is working with hundreds of community organisations to increase digital inclusion across the city. The Community Calling scheme will be a great addition to our offer, supporting our ambition to make Leeds the most digitally inclusive city for everyone. If anyone has an old smartphone they can donate to this scheme, it will be wiped and recycled and gifted to someone who really needs it.”
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 Reconome. 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).
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.
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.
 ONS August 2020 Internet Access Report