• Research finds cost-of-living crisis is forcing low-income Brits to limit how they use their mobile phones and data
  • Around 7 in 10 of those earning less than £25,000 say they don’t know what they’d do if they couldn’t access the internet
  • Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation step up their support to help people stay connected, opening the UK’s 1000thNational Databank Hub, with free O2 mobile data, texts and calls available
  • Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation enlist the help of TV personality, Gail Porter, to raise awareness of the National Databank and data poverty in the UK
  • People can find their nearest National Databank Hub here


LONDON, 28th March 2023: With new research revealing 11.4 million Brits are only one pay slip away from serious hardship, and are even limiting how they use their mobile phones to cut down on costs, Virgin Media O2 and charity, Good Things Foundation, are stepping up their support by opening the 1000th National Databank Hub to provide free mobile data to help people in need stay connected.

The study found the cost-of-living crisis is stopping 1 in 10 low-income Brits – those with household incomes of up to £25,000 – from calling or texting their loved ones, while 10 per cent are also limiting how they use their mobile data.

A further 70 per cent of those earning less than £25,000 say they don’t know what they’d do if they couldn’t access the internet, with almost 4 in 10 (38%) saying they rely on their phone to get online.

Meanwhile, the poll of 2,000 Brits also found a quarter don’t have money to spare beyond spending on the necessities, with more than half (56%) typically spending between 70 per cent to 90 per cent of their monthly pay on outgoings, including rent or mortgages, bills, and direct debits.

In addition, 22 per cent predict that they’d only be able to keep up with their normal lifestyle for a month or less if they lost their jobs, with the biggest concerns about being able to afford utilities (56%), food (47%) and 41 per cent fear they’ll get into debt.

1000th National Databank

To help people in need stay connected, Virgin Media O2 and the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, have opened the UK’s 1000th National Databank Hub, part of the National Digital Inclusion Network, at Summit Learning Trust in Birmingham

The National Databank, founded by Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation, is like a foodbank but provides free mobile data, texts, and calls, to help people in need to get online and stay connected to loved ones.

People in need can access 20GB of free O2 data – enough for around 220 hours of internet browsing – per month. People can find their nearest National Databank Hub here.

Since the National Databank was launched in July 2021, Virgin Media O2 has provided more than 70,000 free O2 SIM cards and 50,000 free O2 data vouchers. Virgin Media O2 has committed more than 61 million GB of free O2 data to the initiative by the end of 2025 and, at the end of last year, brought the National Databank to the High Street for the first time, trialling the initiative at 10 O2 stores over the Christmas period.

Keeping people connected

Demand for the National Databank is growing, with its website receiving almost double the number of visits in 2023 compared to this time last year as people search for how they can get help in staying connected during the cost-of-living crisis.

Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation have enlisted the help of television personality, Gail Porter, who has experienced homelessness herself, to raise awareness of how the National Databank is helping people in need to access free mobile data.

Gail visited a registered National Databank Hub – a member of Good Things Foundation’s National Digital Inclusion Network – in Sheffield to speak with some of the people impacted by data poverty and who are helped by the National Databank.


Gail Porter said:

 “The National Databank is an incredible initiative for providing free mobile data to people who need it most. It’s a service that would have helped me to get off the streets more quickly when I was homeless. You can’t underestimate the power of being connected and being able to access important services and information on your phone.”


Nicola Green from Virgin Media O2 said:

“With 1,000 National Databank Hubs now available across the UK, there’s more help for people in need than ever before so they can get online and stay connected to loved ones.

“As proud founders of the National Databank, Virgin Media O2 has committed more than 61 million GB of O2 data to help people get free data, texts and calls so they and their families can access essential websites, study and work from home, and keep in touch with their friends and family.”

Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive, Good Things Foundation, said:

“This new research from Virgin Media O2, our National Databank founding partner, shows just how essential mobile data access is, supported by the testimony of the National Digital Inclusion Network Hubs helping communities on the frontline.

“By reaching the important milestone of opening the 1,000 National Databank Hub – against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis – Good Things Foundation’s National Databank combined offer of devices, data and digital skills support is already helping to reduce the digital divide.

 “But with 2 million households still struggling to afford internet access in the UK today, and 10 million adults lacking the most basic digital skills, collectively we all need to do more to help the most vulnerable people in our society connect with digital.

“This underpins our 2022-2025 strategy, asking for more ambitious and far-reaching change as we scale up and expand our work in the UK. Together, we can fix the digital divide – for good.”

You can learn more about the National Databank here.



Notes to editors

  • Data set of low income households refers to households with incomes of between £15,000 to £25,000.
  • Virgin Media O2 has begun a £2 million three-year strategic partnership with Good Things Foundation, to help disadvantaged people across the UK get online and gain vital digital skills. The partnership is one of the ways Virgin Media O2 will reach its goals of connecting one million digitally excluded people through free and affordable connectivity and services, and improve the digital skills and confidence of two million people by the end of 2025, as part of its sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan.
  • The National Databank is just one of the ways Virgin Media O2 is supporting people during the cost-of-living crisis. Earlier this month, Virgin Media O2 announced that it is enabling more people than ever to sign up to its social broadband tariffs, Essential Broadband and Essential Broadband Plus.  It means 9.7 million people in the UK receiving Income-based Employment Support Allowance (I-ESA), Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (I-JSA), Income Support (IS), Pension Credit (PC) or Universal Credit (UC) are eligible for the tariffs.

Contact: press@virginmediao2.co.uk / O2@hopeandglorypr.com

About Virgin Media O2

About Virgin Media O2

Virgin Media O2 launched on 1 June 2021, combining the UK’s largest and most reliable mobile network with a broadband network offering the fastest widely-available broadband speeds.

It is a customer-first organisation that brings a range of connectivity services together in one place with a clear mission: to upgrade the nation.

Virgin Media O2 is the corporate brand of the 50:50 joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica SA, and one of the UK’s largest businesses.

The company has 47 million UK connections across broadband, mobile, TV and home phone. Its own fixed network currently passes 16.1 million premises alongside a mobile network that covers 99% of the nation’s population with 4G, and more than 1,600 towns and cities with 5G services targeting 50% population coverage in 2023.

Virgin Media O2 completed its roll out of gigabit broadband speeds across its entire network footprint in 2021 and plans to upgrade its fixed network to full fibre to the premises with completion in 2028.

Its shareholders and investment firm InfraVia Capital Partners are investing approximately £4.5bn to further expand its fixed network to 5 million homes and businesses not currently served by Virgin Media O2’s network by 2026, with the opportunity to expand to an additional 2 million homes.

Virgin Media O2 is committed to using the power of connectivity to supercharge communities across the UK, taking action to close the digital divide and helping to build an inclusive, resilient, and low carbon economy. The company has set an ambitious commitment to achieve net zero carbon across its operations, products and supply chain by the end of 2040.

Virgin Media O2 is registered in England and Wales. Registration number: 12580944.  Griffin House, 161 Hammersmith Road, London, United Kingdom, W6 8BS.

About Good Things Foundation

Good Things Foundation is the leading digital inclusion charity working at scale across the UK, helping excluded people gain the support and skills they need to improve their lives through digital.

It works with thousands of Digital Inclusion Hubs to deliver access to the National Databank, the National Device Bank and free online courses on the Learn My Way platform.

Good Things Foundation are experts in the latest research about the digital divide and knowledgeable about barriers and solutions.

Good Things Foundation believes everyone should have the confidence, skills, support and access to use digital technology, participate in society and benefit from the digital world, with an ambition to support 1 million people by the end of 2025

For more information on Good Things Foundation visit www.goodthingsfoundation.org

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