Virgin Media O2 is donating thousands of smartphones to support asylum seekers and survivors of domestic abuse as part of its Community Calling programme with environment charity, Hubbub.
The company is rehoming 2,500 used smartphones via charities, Migrant Help and Women’s Aid, which will distribute them to people who need them the most.
The smartphones given to Migrant Help will support asylum seekers who have arrived in the UK, and survivors of trafficking and modern-slavery, while Women’s Aid will provide devices to their Member Services; local domestic abuse services who provide life-saving support to survivors of domestic abuse.
The devices will help people to stay in touch with loved ones and to get online to access essential services, including healthcare appointments and mental health support, and to access online translation apps, education and training courses, and so they can apply for job applications and take part in virtual interviews.
The smartphones will come with free O2 mobile data provided by the National Databank – set up by Virgin Media O2 and digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, to tackle data poverty.
Tracey Herald, Head of Sustainability at Virgin Media O2, said:
“For people who have experienced trauma, having a smartphone and free mobile data is a lifeline.
“That’s why we’re proudly supporting Migrant Help and Women’s Aid by rehoming devices and data via Community Calling with Hubbub, so those most in need can stay connected to their loved ones and get online to access vital services, so they can take the steps to rebuild their lives.
“We encourage people to donate their old smartphones to Community Calling so they can be given to people who need them, which prevents them from ending up as e-waste in landfill, too.”
Sophia Nasreisfahany, Projects and Partnership Manager for Migrant Help, said:
“Asylum seekers and survivors of modern-day slavery are amongst the most vulnerable people in our communities. Migrant Help is proud to be partnering with Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub as part of the Community Calling scheme to ensure more of our clients have access to smart phones and data.
“This can be a true lifeline that not only provides access to online services and the ability to attend virtual appointments, but also enables them to stay connected with friends, family and their support networks.
“The ability to contact support services and communicate with family positively impacts mental wellbeing and helps reduce anxiety and loneliness. It also enables people to access online learning for themselves and their children, aiding better integration into local communities.”
Farah Nazeer, CEO of Women’s Aid, said:
“We know what a vital resource a new smartphone can be for survivors of domestic abuse. Perpetrators often restrict and monitor phones and prevent survivors from finding and reaching the support they need. This has sadly been brought to the forefront throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as many of our members have had to pivot to provide life-saving services remotely, rather than face-to-face.
“As a society, we often take technology and the ease of communication for granted, but for survivors, a new handset free from stalking devices and control measures – along with free mobile data – will no doubt be a lifeline as they begin to rebuild their lives. Despite providing life-saving support, domestic abuse services continue to operate on a shoestring, so it’s initiatives like this that really make a difference and we’re delighted that some of our members have been able to distribute such a generous donation of smartphones and data from Virgin Media O2.”
Community Calling was originally launched in July 2020 to respond to the challenge of connecting vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The programme has distributed thousands of refurbished devices to those in need, along with free mobile data from the National Databank, offering a lifeline to the disconnected.
Community Calling has supported a range of community groups including young and older people, and those experiencing homelessness, and it forms part of Virgin Media O2’s ongoing commitment to tackle data poverty.
Earlier this year, Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub announced the Tech Lending Community Fund to make tablets and free mobile data available to community organisations across the UK, to support people facing digital inclusion, and to reduce e-waste by rehoming refurbished devices.
Note to Editors
About Women’s Aid
Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. Since 1974 we have been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic abuse, with survivors at the heart of our work. We are a federation of nearly 170 organisations which provide just under 300 local lifesaving services to women and children across the country.
Women’s Aid provides expert training, qualifications and consultancy to a range of agencies and professionals working with survivors or commissioning domestic abuse services. Our campaigns achieve change in policy, practice and awareness, encouraging healthy relationships and helping to build a future where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated. An estimated 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2020 with young women aged 16-24 years continuing to be the age group at most risk (ONS 2020).
If you are worried that your partner, or that of a friend or family member, is controlling and abusive, go to womensaid.org.uk for support and information, including Live Chat, the Survivors’ Forum, The Survivor’s Handbook and the Domestic Abuse Directory. Live Chat is open from 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 10 am – 6 pm on weekends for confidential expert support from specialised support workers.
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 250 Community Fridges across the UK, each redistributing on average 2.4 tonnes of food every month that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Twitter: @hubbubuk, Facebook: @HubbubUK, Instagram: @helloHubbub; LinkedIn: Hubbub-UK