Virgin Media O2 has launched a pilot scheme to help facilitate foodbank donations working together with Bournemouth Foodbank and charity giving platform, Neighbourly.
The voluntary scheme aims to help hundreds of residents in Bournemouth who are in need this summer and will see a team of local Virgin Media technicians collect food, toiletries and devices from customers who would like to contribute, with donations being delivered directly to Bournemouth Foodbank.
It comes as foodbanks across the country are reporting an estimated 41% increase in need over the last three months alone, with the summer holidays in particular driving that demand. A recent survey also revealed that one in ten parents expect to need access to foodbanks or other related support this summer , which is set to put extra strain on foodbanks across the country as many are also experiencing a reduction in donations.
As part of the pilot, Virgin Media customers in Bournemouth who have an installation booked will be notified of the initiative via an SMS which will provide guidance on items that can be donated. The scheme has been carefully designed to not interfere with the service or experience a customer receives, but will provide a simple and convenient way for people to donate to their local foodbank if they wish to and are able to.
Through the initiative, customers will also have the option to donate old tech as part of Virgin Media O2’s on-going Community Calling scheme, which was created to tackle digital exclusion by rehoming devices to people across the country who face digital isolation. To date, the scheme has rehomed more than 10,000 smartphones, a milestone achieved thanks to the generosity of members of the public and businesses who have donated devices.
This pilot also builds on the company’s support of Basingstoke Foodbank which recently received a grant through Virgin Media O2’s Together Fund to purchase new IT equipment – including new computers and printers – which allowed it to expand to new locations and accept digital vouchers, transforming the charity’s operations.
Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “We are committed to playing an active role in supporting the communities we serve, and we hope this pilot has a genuine impact on the Bournemouth Foodbank and the people it supports. I am so proud of our technicians who have volunteered their time to take part and support the community. If every customer we visit on a weekly basis in Bournemouth donated just one item of food, it could help feed more than 400 additional people over the course of our trial.”
Millie Earl, Fundraising Coordinator, Bournemouth Foodbank said: “At Bournemouth Foodbank we are currently providing food and essentials to over a thousand people a month, a third of which are children. This is nearly double the number of people we were helping this time last year. As the price of food has gone up, donations to the Foodbank have gone down.
“That’s why we’re really pleased to be part of the Virgin Media O2 scheme to help us plug the gap and continue providing emergency food parcels to the poorest and most vulnerable people in our community.”
Steve Butterworth, Chief Executive Officer at Neighbourly said: “The cost-of-living crisis is causing a rapid growth in the demand for foodbanks and front-line support services, which we’ve seen through our work with local charities and was further evidenced in the results of our community insights survey which revealed foodbanks across the UK have experience an 86% in demand over the last three months alone. As the summer holidays hit, it is only going to get more challenging with families not able to rely on free school meals.
“The work of Virgin Media O2 in pioneering new ways to support communities demonstrates a vital commitment to alleviating the increasing pressure on local charities and good causes.”
The launch of this pilot scheme follows a series of initiatives from Virgin Media O2 to support its customers and the communities it operates in. This includes the National Databank in partnership with The Good Things Foundation which launched in November 2021, boosting the number of data-free services that Virgin Media and O2 customers from low-income households can get access to, as well as the company’s Essential Broadband plan for customers who are experiencing financial difficulty and receiving Universal Credit.
Notes to Editors:
: Neighbourly Summer Community Survey, July 2022
 House of Commons Library research, July 2022 https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8585/CBP-8585.pdf
For more information on items that can be donated visit: https://www.neighbourly.com/VirginMediaO2customerdonations