Hubbub and O2 today announced ambitious plans to help 10,000 households in the UK get digitally connected over the course of one year. The expansion of Community Calling is asking for people and businesses to gift old smartphones. These devices will then be professionally data-wiped, sterilised and loaded with 12 months of free O2 connectivity before being donated to digitally excluded people in cities either facing, or at risk of, Tier 3 lockdown restrictions. 

It was recently revealed that 2.7 million UK adults (5%) were unable to access the internet in the three months before August. As parts of the UK grapple with tighter lockdown restrictions and people are once again separated from social contact, Community Calling will help tackle isolation and reduce growing levels of electronic waste (the UK generates the second most e-waste per capita in the world).   

The national expansion builds on an initial pilot in the London Borough of Southwark which proved a lifeline for over 500 households struggling with the impact of COVID19. One beneficiary was Mary, a single parent, who became unemployed due to a serious injury. She was at risk of homelessness and disconnected from the outside world. The smartphone provided by Community Calling allowed her to apply for jobs resulting in her being employed as a cashier at Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.  

The expansion of Community Calling will see it first extended to the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark – locations with high levels of inequality, poverty, exclusion and employment challenges. A national rollout will then follow in Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, South Wales and Glasgow, with the campaign targeting cities either facing or at risk of Tier 3 lockdown restrictions. The full rollout will be completed by Spring 2021.  

To help us reach our target number of devices, we are expanding our callout to include businesses, as well as the public. If you're a business and would like to get involved, there are two options. You can either donate business-owned devices that are no longer in use or engage your employees by encouraging them to donate old phones they may have lying around at home, find out more here. Supporting Community Calling is a brilliant way for businesses to give back to their community and boost morale in such trying times.  

As part of the campaign, O2 will be donating 12 months of free connectivity to the beneficiaries, which will include unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data per month for a full year. All beneficiaries will also be able to access digital skills training either at local support centres or remotely, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to thrive in the longer term. 

O2 and Hubbub will work with local community groups in each city to identify those most in need of a smartphone – people who desperately need either access to essential services, support with education and employment or need to stay 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. 

The expansion of Community Calling is part of the increased emphasis Hubbub is placing on campaigns that deliver social and environmental benefits, helping all sections of society make their money go further whilst benefitting the environment.   

This strategic development has been informed through Hubbub’s public polling and business consultation which led to the creation of our Greenprint. Recent campaigns have included the announcement of the 100th Community Fridge and our partnership with Tesco helping their customers to cut food waste.   

If you’d like to support Community Calling and donate your old smartphones visit https://www.hubbub.org.uk/communitycalling  for more details.