Most businesses have felt the devastating effects of COVID-19. We have gone from a closely interconnected world heavily reliant on free movement and globalisation, to one where we can barely travel beyond our local shopLiving rooms have been transformed into custom-made schools, gyms and offices. Access to technology has never been so crucial in keeping us sane.    

At Hubbub, we pride ourselves on adapting rapidly to changing circumstances.  We have sought to create new partnerships and campaigns that help the most vulnerable in society, whilst also making the best use of resources.  We want to play a significant role in creating a fairer and more sustainable world as we rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis.   

Hubbub, together with O2, is proud to launch Community Calling new community-led smartphone gifting project redistributing pre-loved phones to vulnerable and isolated households. The pandemic has seen an increase in loneliness and social isolation, and Community Calling will help ensure that the most isolated can connect to friends and families, get online for education needs and access essential services 

In the UK, for every single phone in use, four go unused. A recent ONS survey showed that 77% of people cited phone and internet contact as the most common coping strategy for COVID-19 – yet a staggering 1.9 million households don’t have access to the internet and are digitally excluded. Hubbub’s partnership with O2 creates a practical gifting model whereby individuals package up old, workable smartphones and pass them on to vulnerable members of society.  

Community Calling is piloting in Southwark, one of the worst hit boroughs by COVID-19 in London. We are working alongside the Council, Community Southwark and a number of local organisations like Age UK, Pecan and Southwark Works to identify those most in need of a smartphoneThe groups encompass a diverse range of households from the elderly to low-income families and survivors of domestic abuse. Devices will be data-wiped, sterilised and packaged at tech recycling centre, before being posted to local groups along with chargers and bespoke, easy-to-understand user guides. Phones will then be redistributed by volunteers and mutual aid groups using existing delivery services for things like food and medicine.  

To support the beneficiaries longer-term, each phone will be pre-loaded with 15GB data, unlimited calls and unlimited text messages for 30 days. We also have secured on-hand support from O2’s tech ‘Gurus’ who will be able to assist beneficiaries should they have any technical struggles. To kick-start the scheme, O2 has donated 300 devices. We aim to regift 800 phones over the course of four weeks. 

Do you have a spare phone you'd like to pass on? Sign up to gift it with Community Calling below. 


Digital exclusion has long been an issue in the UK and will continue to be once COVID-19 subsides. Community Calling will give the most isolated members of society a chance tspeak to loved ones and access vital frontline support services using technology that would otherwise be sitting unused and probably destined in the long-term for the dump  

Our ambition is to measure the effectiveness of the campaign and, if it proves successful, to explore ways to expand the campaign nationally.  If you are interested in helping with this ambition please get in touch at [email protected]

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