The festive season is nearing– and this time of year reminds us how vital connectivity is, and how devastating it can be for an individual to be digitally isolated.
We spoke with Robert, aged 35, from London. Robert received a smartphone from our Community Calling scheme in 2020 which helped him reconnect with his family and obtain a job during lockdown.
What happened to your smartphone – and what led you to Community Calling?
Robert: Before lockdown, I worked for a youth hostel company – and when the pandemic struck I was on furlough, and my phone broke. It was the worst possible timing because I knew I couldn’t afford to buy a replacement – and that in itself was really depressing and isolating for me. It meant I didn’t know what was happening in my home country and I couldn’t keep up to date with the rules I needed to follow during lockdown.
I found about the Community Calling scheme from a lady working at Southwark Council – and she informed me that it involved providing devices, such as mobile phones, to help people get connected. She then registered me for the scheme and within a month I found out I was going to receive a phone. It was such a relief. It came to me just at the right time – when work was opening up again after being closed for months.
What was the first thing you did when you received your smartphone from Community Calling?
Robert: Well, the first thing I did was to call my family back in Rwanda – it was very emotional to reconnect with them and check in – I hadn’t spoken to my family in two months.
When I received my smartphone through Community Calling I was so happy – and relived knowing I could connect with my family again via video call, and also listen to music! It also meant I could apply for jobs, and I received a job offer in less than a week.
What has the impact been on your life?
Robert: This year has been great – I’m now working as an electric bike mechanic which I love. I’m very grateful that I received a donation and I would like to do the same for someone else in the future. I’m so thankful because it really has changed my life completely.
What would be your message to someone who is thinking about donating a phone to Community Calling?
Robert: My message would simply be: please donate where you can. When you have the ability to donate a smartphone it’s such an enabler to change someone’s life; to connect them with their family, and help them get a job. I’m living proof of that.
I believe in karma – do a good thing and it comes back to you. I’m so grateful and happy to have received the phone at such a crucial time. Thank you.
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.