People urged to donate unwanted smartphones to those in need

Smartphone users are being encouraged to donate their old and unwanted devices to a charity which provides connectivity to those most in need of it.

Virgin Media O2 and environmental charity Hubbub have urged people to donate devices to Community Calling, a scheme to get phones to people who need them, including victims of domestic abuse, refugees and disadvantaged communities.

New research from the two firms found that 44% of people wrongly believe charities do not accept smartphones.

Previous Virgin Media O2 research estimated that there are as many as 15 million unwanted devices sitting unused in homes around the UK.

The Community Calling scheme was established in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to provide smartphones to those who could not afford devices or connectivity to get online.

It has donated 20,000 devices to people in need around the country, with free mobile data being provided by the National Databank, which was set up by Virgin Media O2 and the Good Things Foundation.

A number of reports have said that some people risk being cut off from society because they lack the tools needed to get online in an increasingly digital world.

Dana Haidan, chief sustainability officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “We know people in the UK want to do more to help communities in need, and with millions of unused phones stashed in drawers and garages, they’ve got the power to change lives by donating their devices to Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub’s Community Calling scheme.

“The quick and easy act of donating a phone will help people in need to get online and access essential services, like booking a medical appointment, applying for a job or taking part in training, or keeping in touch with loved ones.”

Hubbub chief executive Alex Robinson, said: “Four years after Covid-19 hit, digital exclusion remains a significant issue for hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.

“That’s why we’re thrilled to be celebrating the milestone of having committed 20,000 second-hand devices and free data through Community Calling.

“We’ve made donating a device to Community Calling easy and straightforward, to encourage even more businesses and individuals to pass on their old devices to support those facing digital exclusion.”