O2 and Hubbub to keep the most vulnerable in Bristol connected

O2 and partners demonstrate support for Bristol’s vulnerable population with local mobile device and data donation drive.

O2 is expanding its partnership with charity Hubbub, with the aim of donating 1,000 devices and 12 months of free connectivity to digitally excluded people across Bristol.

With support from The Aviva Foundation, Bristol beneficiaries will also benefit from money tips and guidance from financial wellbeing experts, Clean Slate, to help manage tight household budgets.

The Community Calling campaign is a lifeline for people who are struggling as a result of the pandemic, and will see smartphones first donated in the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark – locations with high levels of inequality, poverty, exclusion and employment challenges.

The Bristol launch of Community Calling is directly addressing the financial exclusion that often goes hand in hand with a lack of connectivity. For those without access to the internet it’s difficult to access services and discounts that support financial wellbeing – and this has been made more challenging by the pandemic.

In Bristol, O2 and Hubbub are working closely with award-winning education consultants Sustainable Hive, who are delivering the project on the ground, including identifying beneficiaries.

The Aviva Foundation has provided funding for the roll out of Community Calling in Bristol to ensure that the campaign benefits mid-life to elderly low-income households across the city, who struggle to access financial wellbeing support.

Phones will be distributed through a range of local organisations, including Bristol Drugs Project, AgeUK and Ambition Lawrence Weston, all working in partnership with O2, Hubbub and Sustainable Hive.

All beneficiaries will also be able to access digital skills training at local support centers, with support from Bristol Council, as well as money guidance from Community Interest Company Clean Slate Training & Employment.

Mark Evans, Chief Executive of O2, said: 

“Connectivity has been vital to keeping the country running during the pandemic, but if you’re unable to get online you’re likely to miss out on a lot of support. We’ve already seen the positive impact Community Calling has had on vulnerable people in London and Manchester – providing a lifeline for those most affected by the pandemic, so we’re pleased to announce this expansion to Bristol.

This campaign reflects our broader commitment to be there for our customers and the wider community, whenever they need us.”

O2 and Hubbub are working closely with local community groups in each city to identify those most in need of a smartphone – people who desperately need access to essential services, support with education and employment, or to keep connected with loved ones.

The most vulnerable individuals have been identified as those who are shielding, the elderly, refugees, domestic abuse survivors and those in low income households.

Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-Founder at Hubbub, said: 

“It’s been heart-warming to see the positive impact receiving a smartphone through the Community Calling project has already had on so many people’s lives. Being connected to loved ones and accessing essential services is easily taken for granted but is still not a reality for too many people.

We’re excited to be working with O2 to expand Community Calling to Bristol to get more people connected and prevent unnecessary electrical waste. We’re calling on individuals and businesses with spare smartphones to donate them to somebody who needs a device to stay connected at this difficult time.”

All beneficiaries will also be able to access digital skills training at local support centres, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to thrive in the longer term.

The move follows a successful trial earlier this year, which saw over 500 devices distributed to residents of Southwark in London. It had an overwhelmingly positive effect – from keeping families connected during lockdown and reducing loneliness, to supporting home-schooling and helping people secure employment – as well as tackling the problem of e-waste.

Councillor Anna Keen, Cabinet Lead for Education and Skills, said: : 

“We know that the ability to access digital devices is incredibly important – now more than ever. It is great that so many partners are committing to the Community Calling campaign, taking a One City approach to help promote digital inclusion across the city.

By working together, we can reach people in our communities whose financial and personal lives have been hit hard by the pandemic and help them bridge the digital divide. Our Community Learning Team will be providing courses and support, so that recipients can build their confidence and skills to make the best use of their new device.”

Gift your phone

Anyone in the UK can get involved by donating unused smartphones. It’s easy to sign up online – you’ll receive a free-post donation box to post your old and workable smartphone, to be refurbished by trusted partner Reconome. It will be data-wiped, sanitised and redistributed with user guides and PAYG SIM cards.

Alternatively, those who don’t have an old smartphone can choose to donate the cost of one month’s top-up for the beneficiaries by visiting here.

O2 and Hubbub are also encouraging businesses to support the campaign by organising bulk device donations, or providing collection boxes in their offices (where appropriate).

If you’d like to support the campaign and donate your old smartphones to Community Calling, visit here for more details.

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