Vodafone and Barnardo’s are calling on the public to donate preloved smartphones and tablets for redistribution to disadvantaged children, families and the charity workers who support them. Vodafone will cover all postage and packaging costs; and will provide three months’ free connectivity for every device distributed.
The Great British Tech Appeal will run for six weeks and will also provide devices to the British Red Cross and to services for victims of domestic abuse via the charity SafeLives.
It’s estimated that UK homes may contain up to 40 million unused electronic gadgets including mobile phones and tablets. A recent study concluded that half of UK homes have at least one unused electronic device and 45% have up to five.
The Great British Tech Appeal is looking for any smartphone or tablet in working condition and donating is free of charge. People can visit the site and complete a short online form to receive a donation kit with a flattened freepost box and pre-paid returns envelope. Devices can be posted at any post office or post box.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the essential role of digital technology in keeping people connected. Yet hundreds of thousands of people across the UK do not have adequate access to a device or connectivity at home and face huge barriers in accessing education and support services.
• More than 700,000 children and young people across the UK do not have adequate access to a device or connectivity at home.
• Barnardo’s reports that ‘digital poverty’ affects the ability of the 300,000 children and young people it supports to keep in touch with essential key workers.
• In surveys conducted during the lockdown, SafeLives found that 25% of people living with abuse rated their safety at less than 5 out of 10.
Every device received via The Great British Tech Appeal will be data wiped, re-boxed with a cable and charger and redistributed with the help of our charity partners. Recipients of a device will benefit from unlimited connectivity for three months, after which they can choose to stay with us as a customer or join another network.
Vodafone UK Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said, “Our focus throughout this crisis has been Keeping the UK Connected. We’ve provided tech support to our charity partners and the vulnerable people they care for; and across the UK, our teams have been working flat out to bring NHS hospitals, front line staff and emergency services the connectivity they need to do their amazing work. However, we know that many thousands of children and families still can’t access learning or essential support because they don’t have the devices or connectivity they need. The Great British Tech Appeal relies on the generosity of the public and we call on them to get behind this appeal. Your old phone or tablet really could change a life.”
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said, “The Coronavirus crisis is having serious consequences for the vulnerable children and families we support across the UK. ‘Digital poverty’ – the lack of devices or internet access – means many children already at a disadvantage will fall further behind at school and miss out on vital support such as counselling. We’re delighted to be working with Vodafone to help get technology and connectivity into the hands of the vulnerable children and families who need it most. If you do have a smartphone or tablet at home that you’re not using, please consider donating it to the Great British Tech Appeal so we can help children learn and stay safe at home.”
Any donated device that can’t be used will be responsibly recycled via Vodafone’s existing accredited partners, reducing e-waste and the demand for rare-earth elements used in the manufacture of mobile phones and tablets.