Campaign to donate old phones to vulnerable people has launched in Lewisham

Person holding a black Samsung phone. Pic: Pxfuel

Residents in Lewisham are being encouraged to donate their old mobile phones to help those more vulnerable than them. 

Phones will be donated in Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark where communities face high levels of inequality, poverty, exclusion and employment challenges. The phones are to help residents access support and stay connected ahead of lockdown.

Lewisham Council is taking part in the campaign with mobile phone network provider O2 and charity Hubbub.

Cllr Joe Dromey, Cabinet Member for Culture, Jobs and Skills, said: “In an increasingly digital world, access to the internet is crucial. Whether it be looking for a job, accessing public services, or just keeping in touch with family and friends, a smartphone can make a huge difference. Every year, millions of handsets are thrown away, yet millions of residents lack a smartphone. That can’t be right. So we’re delighted to be involved in this pioneering project, and we’d encourage local businesses and residents to take part by donating any unused phones.”

Those who are classified as vulnerable are those who are shielding, the elderly, refugees, domestic abuse survivors and those in low-income households. The campaign targets those who are facing, or at risk of Tier 3 lockdown restrictions.

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 Southwark, so we’re pleased to announce this expansion and tackle digital exclusion elsewhere across the country. We’re determined to support the people who need it most.”

O2 will be donating 12 months of free connectivity. This will include unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data per month for a full year. By 2021 they hope to have launched the same campaign in Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Swansea and Glasgow.

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 looking forward to working with O2 to expand Community Calling 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.”

Residents are encouraged to donate their old devices through the post, and those receiving the devices will be taught how to use them. 

Community Calling first trialled this campaign at the start of lockdown and saw 538 old mobile phones be donated. They’re hoping this campaign will help them rehome over 2000 phones.  

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