Monday 13th December 2021: Today, O2 in partnership with charity, Hubbub, has launched its ‘Phone Retriever’ service to encourage the public to rehome their old smartphones and fight digital exclusion this Christmas.
As part of O2’s ‘Rehome Your Phone’ campaign, golden retrievers and social media stars, Hugo and Huxley, will act as Santa’s little helpers by collecting devices in Greenwich and donating them to the ‘Rehome Your Phone’ Community Calling pop-up at Icon Outlet at The O2.
Those who live in postcodes SE3, SE7 and SE10 can book the service for Saturday 18 December via Eventbrite. There are a select number of collection slots available to book between the hours of 10:00-15:00. Bookings open from 9am on Monday 13 December, 2021.
People can also donate their unused smartphones in person at the ‘Rehome Your Phone’ pop-up at Icon Outlet at The O2, which is running from 10-24 December, or they can send them to Community Calling via freepost. Once received, the phone is data-wiped and sanitised to help ensure that all personal data is removed before the phone is regifted to someone who needs it.
O2 and Hubbub’s Community Calling scheme aims to address digital exclusion across the UK. There are an estimated 1.5 million homes nationwide currently without internet access*.
The initiative provides smartphones to those who need it, along with free mobile data via the National Databank – created by Virgin Media O2 with charity, Good Things Foundation, to tackle data poverty.
Nicola Green from Virgin Media O2, said:
“We know how important it is for people to be able to get online and stay in touch with everyone they love – especially over Christmas.
“That’s why we’re asking people to rehome their old smartphones through our Community Calling scheme, so they can be gifted to someone in need, along with free mobile data from our National Databank. Rehoming your phone is also the greener option, keeping your tech out of landfill and helping avoid unnecessary e-waste.
“Whether you book our free ‘Phone Retrievers’ service, visit the ‘Rehome Your Phone’ pop-up donation point at Icon Outlet at The O2, or donate your device to Community Calling via the post, your unused smartphone could help keep someone connected this Christmas and beyond.”
Robert, aged 35, and from London, received a smartphone from the Community Calling scheme in 2020. It helped him reconnect with his family and get a job during lockdown.
“When I received a donated smartphone through the Community Calling scheme I was very happy. It was a relief knowing I could speak to my family via a video call and it was great I could listen to music again! I opened accounts on jobs’ sites and then received a job offer in less than a week.
“It made me very grateful to receive a donation and I would like to do the same for someone else in the future. I thank God for whoever donated the smartphone I received. I am thankful because it changed my life.
“My message is please donate a smartphone. When you have the ability to donate, it’s such a big enabler to change someone’s life; to connect them to their family, and to help them get a job.”
Emily Watson from Hubbub said:
“It’s simple: you donate your old smartphone, we clean it, data-wipe it and redistribute it to someone in need – complete with free mobile data provided by Virgin Media O2’s National Databank.”
“So far, Community Calling has re-homed more than 5,500 smartphones, but with 28 million more devices going unused in people’s homes, we need your help to reach our target of donating 10,000 phones to people who really need them.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
As part of O2’s ‘Phone Retrievers’ service, the golden retriever helpers will collect smartphones and deliver them to The O2, where their handler will then take them to the ‘Rehome Your Phone’ pop-up donation point at Icon Outlet at The O2.
Only registered assistance dogs will be permitted to enter The O2 or Icon Outlet at The O2 – further information can be found here: https://www.theo2.co.uk/accessibility/the-o2/.
*There are around 1.5 million homes nationwide currently without internet access according to Ofcom data (April 2021) – Digital divide narrowed by pandemic, but around 1.5m homes remain offline – Ofcom.