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O2 UK Trial Gives Away Old Smartphones to Vulnerable People

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 5,030

Mobile operator O2 has launched a new “Community Calling” trial alongside Hubbub, which invites people to donate their old phones so that they can then be refurbished and distributed to “digitally excluded” people in other parts of the country (particularly those left disadvantaged by the COVID-19 crisis).

At launch the trial will only focus on people in the Southwark area of London and O2 said this will involve the distribution of around 800 handsets to residents. The pre-identified list of households has been put together by a number of local organisations in Southwark (clients range from the elderly, those in low-income households, survivors of domestic abuse and asylum seekers etc.).

Within these groups, each organisation has “identified those who would benefit most from a smartphone,” based on providing access to essential services, online learning or getting connected to family and friends. Any donated phones will be data-wiped, cleaned and refurbished by Recono.me ready for redistribution.

O2 is also donating 300 handsets to the total, alongside providing pay as you go SIMs and top-up to be used with the those devices.

Tracey Herald, O2’s Head of Partnerships and Social impact, said:

“Connectivity is a lifeline for so many at this time – and with so many smart devices sitting in drawers at home, this project provides the perfect opportunity to dust them off for a good cause. The Southwark community has been particularly affected by the recent pandemic, so we’re working in partnership with Hubbub, the local council and community groups to ensure we can distribute these devices to those who need them most.

The trial will help us tackle digital exclusion and help the environment too.”

Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-Founder at Hubbub, said:

“Community Calling offers a simple way to get unused smartphones to people who need them most during the current pandemic, allowing them to access essential services, to educate their kids or to stay in touch with loved ones. Plus it has the bonus environmental benefit of avoiding electrical waste going to landfill or incineration. We’re trialling the approach with O2 in Southwark and if successful, we’ll look to replicate it elsewhere in the UK.”

The operator estimates that 1.9 million households in the UK don’t yet have access to the internet and are considered “digitally excluded,” which could represent a future target for their scheme. If you’d like to support the trial and donate your old smartphones to the Community Calling project, visit http://www.hubbub.org.uk/communitycalling/ for more details.

Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Avatar Dave Scott

    That’s but stupid they’ll longer receive security and app updates that’s a security risk and given to vulnerable people Lol

  2. Avatar Tom

    Sounds like a very nice initiative from O2 but given how people are I wonder how many of these will end up on eBay within hours…

  3. Avatar Jooles

    The NHS COVID19 app requires iOS11 (iPhone 6 or newer). And Android 8, which will only work on devices made in the last 2 to 3 years as Android updates pushed by manufacturers is dreadful.

  4. Avatar Lee weaver

    I would like to put in for a free phone

  5. Avatar Jooles

    Chris you are wrong.

    A trial of the NHS contact tracing app on the Isle of Wight has unveiled some issues with the software, Downing Street said.

    The app uses a phone’s bluetooth technology to register contact when people come within 6ft of one another for at least 15 minutes.

    Work is now being carried out to solve several issues with the app. One problem is that it won’t run on older phones running systems older than Apple IoS 11 or Android 8.


  6. Avatar Noel Anthony Woodcock

    What about the person who receives one of the phones, surely they will get a monthly bill, or will O2 be giving them free call and internet as well?. Tony

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      O2 will be providing SIM cards with 15GB data, unlimited texts and unlimited minutes for 30 days. Recipients will also be supported with remote assistance and tech support to get up and running.

  7. Avatar Deirdre madden

    Would like to be considered got health problems and my phone screen is cracked and it is hard to see the letters

  8. Avatar David Wheatley

    Giffgaff are doing something similar, providing Doro phones with 3 months of unlimited calls and texts and 2 GB data/mth


    I would like to be considered for my father who is elderly and on his own please

  10. Avatar James kelso

    This site won’t be any good for buying all the time for me

  11. Avatar James kelso

    I don’t think phones whatever their model are is unsuitable for me as I must know how it works

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