• Summit Learning Trust which serves residents across Solihull and Birmingham is providing access to free mobile data for those in need
  • It comes as new data from Virgin Media O2 shows that 36% of people in the West Midlands say they’re only one pay slip away from serious hardship
  • The National Databank is a network of Digital Inclusion Hubs where free O2 mobile data, texts and calls are available

Birmingham, 31st March 2023: Summit Learning Trust, has become the UK’s 1,000th National Databank Hub, providing free mobile data, texts and calls to help those in need in Birmingham and Solihull stay connected.

Virgin Media O2 and digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, are announcing the landmark opening of the Databank Hub, which is based in Solihull and also supports residents across Birmingham, as part of their ongoing work to ensure that National Databank can support more people across the country as the cost-of-living crisis continues.

It comes as new research reveals that more than a third (36%) of people in the West Midlands are only one pay slip away from serious hardship and are even limiting how they use their mobile phones to cut down on costs.

The study also found that, across the country, the cost-of-living crisis is stopping 1 in 10 low-income Brits – those with household incomes of up to £25,000 – from calling or texting their loved ones, while 10% are limiting how they use their mobile data.

A further 70% of those earning less than £25,000 say they don’t know what they’d do if they couldn’t access the internet, with almost 4 in 10 (38%) saying they rely on their phone to get online.

Birmingham’s National Databank Hub

The Summit Learning Trust, which already supports 8,000 learners across Birmingham and Solihull, is providing families in need with free O2 mobile data, texts, and calls so they can get online and stay connected to loved ones.

They can get 20GB of free O2 data per month – enough for around 220 hours of internet browsing per month.

Commenting on her experience accessing data via the National Databank, Mrs O from Bordesley Green, said:“I have been using the National Databank service for the last three years and it has been invaluable in helping me stay connected with my children’s school and ensure we’re on top of their schoolwork. It is great to have another Databank Hub connected to the Summit Leaning Trust.

 So much school communication and work is now done online so without access to data, I would have no way to keep in touch and get the essential information. For example, my daughter has been able to access all her schoolwork and prepare for exams using the data we’ve been given and it’s helped me access my 6-year old son’s class work too. Having this support has helped me embrace technology more and means I can help my children stay connected to their schools.”

Commenting on the hub opening, Vince Green, Chief Executive Officer of Summit Learning Trust, said:“Summit Learning Trust is proud to be joining 999 other databank hubs around the UK who are working tirelessly to ensure families can access free mobile data and receive the vital support they need. With a network of  approximately 8,000 learners at Summit Learning Trust, across Birmingham and Solihull, we are perfectly positioned to support our community in this way and continue the work that Good Things Foundation and Virgin Media O2 are doing.

 “The support we’re now able to provide will be invaluable for families in our region who risk losing connection with their community and loved ones without this support with their mobile data.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, has also shown his support for the opening of the 1000th National Databank Hub. He said: “I want digital connectivity to be delivered as widely as possible, so everyone can benefit from the access s it provides to services, advice, training and employment opportunities – as well as helping families and friends keep in touch.  The National Databank promotes digital inclusion across the UK, helping people with the cost of living, and I am delighted that its 1,000th centre is now open here in Birmingham and Solihull at the Summit Learning Trust.” 

Supporting the National Databank

Since the National Databank launched in July 2021, Virgin Media O2 has provided more than 70,000 free O2 SIM cards and 50,000 free O2 data vouchers.

Virgin Media O2 has committed more than 61 million GB of free O2 data to the initiative by the end of 2025 and, at the end of last year, brought the National Databank to the High Street for the first time, trialling the initiative at 10 O2 stores over the Christmas period.

Demand for the National Databank is growing, with its website receiving almost double the number of visits in 2023 compared to this time last year as people search for how they can get help in staying connected during the cost-of-living crisis.

Nicola Green from Virgin Media O2 said:

“We’re proud to support the opening of the UK’s 1000th National Databank Hub at Summit Learning Trust to help people across Birmingham and Solihull to get online and stay connected to loved ones.

“As proud founders of the National Databank, Virgin Media O2 has committed more than 61 million GB of O2 data to help people get free data, texts and calls so they and their families can access essential websites, study and work from home, and keep in touch with their friends and family.”

Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive, Good Things Foundation, said:

“This new research from Virgin Media O2, our National Databank founding partner, shows just how essential mobile data access is, supported by the testimony of the National Digital Inclusion Network Hubs helping communities on the frontline.

“By reaching the important milestone of opening the 1,000 National Databank Hub – against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis – Good Things Foundation’s National Databank combined offer of devices, data and digital skills support is already helping to reduce the digital divide.

“But with 2 million households still struggling to afford internet access in the UK today, and 10 million adults lacking the most basic digital skills, collectively we all need to do more to help the most vulnerable people in our society connect with digital.

“This underpins our 2022-2025 strategy, asking for more ambitious and far-reaching change as we scale up and expand our work in the UK. Together, we can fix the digital divide – for good.”

People can find their nearest National Databank Hub here.


Notes to editors

  • Data set of low income households refers to households with incomes of between £15,000 to 25,000.
  • Virgin Media O2 has begun a £2 million three-year strategic partnership with Good Things Foundation, to help disadvantaged people across the UK get online and gain vital digital skills. The partnership is one of the ways Virgin Media O2 will reach its goals of connecting one million digitally excluded people through free and affordable connectivity and services, and improve the digital skills and confidence of two million people by the end of 2025, as part of its sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan.
  • The National Databank is just one of the ways Virgin Media O2 is supporting people during the cost-of-living crisis. Earlier this month, Virgin Media O2 announced that it is enabling more people than ever to sign up to its social broadband tariffs, Essential Broadband and Essential Broadband Plus.  It means 9.7 million people in the UK receiving Income-based Employment Support Allowance (I-ESA), Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (I-JSA), Income Support (IS), Pension Credit (PC) or Universal Credit (UC) are eligible for the tariffs.

Contact: press@virginmediao2.co.uk / O2@hopeandglorypr.com

About Virgin Media O2

Virgin Media O2 launched on 1 June 2021, combining the UK’s largest and most reliable mobile network with a broadband network offering the fastest widely-available broadband speeds.

It is a customer-first organisation that brings a range of connectivity services together in one place with a clear mission: to upgrade the nation.

Virgin Media O2 is the corporate brand of the 50:50 joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica SA, and one of the UK’s largest businesses.

The company has 47 million UK connections across broadband, mobile, TV and home phone. Its own fixed network currently passes 16.1 million premises alongside a mobile network that covers 99% of the nation’s population with 4G, and more than 1,600 towns and cities with 5G services targeting 50% population coverage in 2023.

Virgin Media O2 completed its roll out of gigabit broadband speeds across its entire network footprint in 2021 and plans to upgrade its fixed network to full fibre to the premises with completion in 2028.

Its shareholders and investment firm InfraVia Capital Partners are investing approximately £4.5bn to further expand its fixed network to 5 million homes and businesses not currently served by Virgin Media O2’s network by 2026, with the opportunity to expand to an additional 2 million homes.

Virgin Media O2 is committed to using the power of connectivity to supercharge communities across the UK, taking action to close the digital divide and helping to build an inclusive, resilient, and low carbon economy. The company has set an ambitious commitment to achieve net zero carbon across its operations, products and supply chain by the end of 2040.

Virgin Media O2 is registered in England and Wales. Registration number: 12580944.  Griffin House, 161 Hammersmith Road, London, United Kingdom, W6 8BS.

About Good Things Foundation

Good Things Foundation is the leading digital inclusion charity working at scale across the UK, helping excluded people gain the support and skills they need to improve their lives through digital.

It works with thousands of Digital Inclusion Hubs to deliver access to the National Databank, the National Device Bank and free online courses on the Learn My Way platform.

Good Things Foundation are experts in the latest research about the digital divide and knowledgeable about barriers and solutions.

Good Things Foundation believes everyone should have the confidence, skills, support and access to use digital technology, participate in society and benefit from the digital world, with an ambition to support 1 million people by the end of 2025

For more information on Good Things Foundation visit www.goodthingsfoundation.org

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
press@virginmediao2.co.uk 01753 565656
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