Community Calling: stories from the beneficiaries Where do the phones go once they are donated to Community Calling? Our smartphone gifting project sees old smartphones rehomed with new, and otherwise digitally excluded, owners. For some, it’s the first phone they’ve ever had. For others, it’s the first time with a phone that connects to the internet so they can access education sites, health advice, employment services, as well as connect with loved ones. We’re working with local community groups in the boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham and Lambeth to identify people who will benefit most from a phone. Some examples of Community Calling beneficiaries are the elderly, asylum seekers, survivors of domestic abuse and those in low-income households. We are working closely with the local councils to ensure everyone who receives a phone has adequate digital skills training to go with their device. Read on for a few special stories. One of the first people to get a Community Calling phone was Joan. She lives in a care home and had been cut off from her family during lockdown. Isolation and loneliness are growing issues for the elderly, especially in a digitalising world that can leave them behind. We delivered a sterilised phone to Joan’s door so she could start video calling family members. What was first thing she said she would do? Call her son to tell him she loves him. Check out Joan's story here. Mary is a single parent, and following a bad traffic accident, she had to have a major operation. This left her unable to do her regular cleaning work and was at risk of being made homeless. Mary was put in touch with a Southwark group who support vulnerable people facing homelessness. They recommended her for a device because she was keen to find a new job to help support herself and her son. On the day the Community Calling phone arrived, she used it to send off some job applications. Two days later she was called for an interview and landed the job! She said, "I felt the phone had been the piece of luck I’d been waiting for... it's a turning point in my life." Katie and Jay are adults with learning difficulties and are part of Southwark community centre, Bede House. Thanks to Bede House, they could connect with friends, have meals together and learn new skills. Jay is a keen gardener and liked to grow vegetables in an allotment, act in drama productions and join a weekly music group. Katie loves to paint and draw in a weekly art session. Lockdown cut them off from their main social outlet. They were unable to see friends or contact case workers to raise issues that may have been worrying them. We paired them up with Community Calling phones and now Katie and Jay can join the Bede House daily Zoom meetings and activities. Jay quickly became a keen photographer and started sharing photos with his care workers just days after getting his phone. In our first phase we were able to help 538 people from a range of backgrounds who all benefited from having a smart phone, as we believe a connected community is a stronger community. We are now re-launching Community Calling aiming to collect, refurbish and distribute 1500 smartphones so no one is left behind. If you or your employer can donate phones to people like Joan, Mary, Katie and Jay you’ll be playing an important role in tackling digital exclusion and isolation in the UK. Find out how to get involved here.