Environmental charity Hubbub and Virgin Media O2 are today launching a £400,000 fund to enable a pioneering tablet lending scheme which will make tablets and free mobile data available to community organisations supporting people in temporary accommodation.

The Tech Lending Community Fund will deliver social and environmental benefits by helping people facing digital exclusion to access the internet, while reducing e-waste by maximising the use of refurbished digital devices.

Grants of between £50,000 and £120,000 are available to organisations such as local councils, NGOs and community groups to purchase refurbished devices to lend to groups in temporary accommodation. These might include refugees, young people facing hardship, those recently released from prison and domestic abuse survivors.

The tablets will help people connect with loved ones, access healthcare, complete training or job applications and take part in virtual interviews.

The initial aim is to establish and support up to five Tech Lending Hubs in locations across the UK and make at least 1,000 high quality refurbished devices available.

This builds on Hubbub and O2’s Community Calling initiative which has redistributed more than 9,000 donated smartphones to people in need, and has reduced potential e-waste, too. The free mobile data will be provided by Virgin Media O2’s National Databank created in partnership in digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation.

The grant fund is also being supported by Amazon who are providing an additional £100,000 to support the running costs of the lending hubs.

Trewin Restorick, CEO and founder of Hubbub said:

“This is a really exciting project which not only helps address the pressing issue of e-waste – one of the world’s fastest growing and most toxic waste streams – but also aims to support at least 4,000 people in temporary accommodation facing digital isolation. We’re very keen to hear from community groups interested in pioneering a community lending scheme.

“Our long-term ambition is to create a strong and vibrant network of tech lending hubs supported by high quality resources and guidance. This is a similar model to our Community Fridge Network which is now helping address waste and inequality in every corner of the country.

Leeds City Council’s 100% Digital Leeds programme which helps digitally excluded people across the city, will also support the campaign and be on hand to share learnings, support groups and help with funding bids.

Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for resources, Councillor Debra Coupar, said: 

“Leeds City Council is delighted to support the launch of Hubbub and Virgin Media O2’s Tech Lending Community. Through our 100% Digital Leeds programme, we know that access to equipment and connectivity is an important aspect of digital inclusion. This scheme will overcome that barrier to inclusion for people living in temporary accommodation. We look forward to working with Hubbub to develop the Tech Lending Community. It will make a huge difference to the lives of people across the country.”

Tracey Herald, Head of Sustainability at Virgin Media O2, said:

“In an increasingly digital world, we know how important it is to help people get connected. For those in temporary accommodation, connectivity is a lifeline – helping them stay connected to loved ones and accessing essential online services, from healthcare to applying for a job.

“That’s why we’re building on our partnership with Hubbub by launching the Tech Lending Community Fund to create community lending schemes across the UK that offer devices and data to those who need it most. The scheme supports people and planet – connecting the disconnected and giving old devices a new lease of life, helping to prevent e-waste.”

Applications close on 1st March 2022 and organisations interested in applying can visit https://www.techlendingcommunityfund.co.uk/ to find out more. Funding will be released from May 2022.


For more information please contact:

Maria Kortbech  maria.kortbech@barleycommunications.co.uk  07952 507270

Notes to editors 

In 2020, O2 and Hubbub launched the Community Calling initiative which has distributed over 9,000 smartphones to digitally isolated individuals.

About Hubbub

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

About 100% Digital Leeds

100% Digital Leeds is the Leeds City Council led programme working to improve digital inclusion across the city and make Leeds the most digitally inclusive city for everyone. To achieve this, the 100% Digital team works with intermediary organisations across third sector, public sector and health and care. 100% Digital Leeds helps these organisations to embed digital inclusion into what they already do, building their capacity to support the people they work with.

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