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 was the first phone they’ve ever had. For others, we updated unreliable old phones that didn’t connect to the internet with smartphones that can access education sites, health advice, employment services, as well as help people connect with loved ones. 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 seeing her family when lockdown started in March. 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. You can watch 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. She had an old mobile phone but it did not have an internet connection. 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 was successful in getting one! 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 for social reasons. Normally in their group they can see friends, have meals together, and join in fun activities. Jay was 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 and joined an art session each week. In March, the lockdown cut off 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's daily Zoom meetings and activities. We were told Jay quickly became a keen photographer and started sharing photos with his careworkers 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 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 John you’ll be playing an important role in the fight against digital exclusion and isolation in the UK. Sign up to get involved here.