Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub donate phones and data to help refugees and victims of domestic abuse

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, andsurvivors 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 and go online to access essential services, including healthcare appointments and mental health support, and to access online translation apps, education and training courses.

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. 

“For people who have experienced trauma, having a smartphone and free mobile data is a lifeline,” said Tracey Herald, Head of Sustainability at Virgin Media O2. “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, added: “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.”

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.

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.