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O2 wants to use your old smartphone to tackle loneliness in London

O2 is teaming up with environmental charity Hubbub to encourage Londoners to donate old and unused smartphones to neighbours that need them.

The trial – named ‘Community Calling’ – aims to tackle loneliness and enable contact tracing for those living in unconnected households. O2 will kickstart the trial by gifting 800 refurbished smartphones and O2 Pay as you Go SIM cards to ‘digitally excluded’ people in the Southwark area.

A list of digitally excluded households has been put together by a number of local organisations in Southwark. Recipients include the elderly, those living in low-income households, domestic abuse survivors and asylum seekers. The organisations have identified who from these groups would benefit most from a smartphone, whether that be by gaining access to essential services, online learning or connecting with family and friends.

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O2 is inviting members of the Southwark community and surrounding areas with old or unused phones lying around to donate to the project. All donated devices will be data-wiped, cleaned and refurbished by and O2 plans to supply pay as you go SIMs to go with them. The mobile provider will also donate 300 devices of its own to the project.

According to O2, 1.9 million households in the UK are currently considered ‘digitally excluded’, having no access to the internet. There is also an average of four phones sitting unused in UK households for every one currently in use. The project aims to make use of these spare resources to tackle the loneliness and connectivity issues that have become more apparent during the pandemic.

O2 will share learnings from the Southwark trial to help inform recycling and re-use initiatives across the UK.

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“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”, said O2 Head of Partnerships and Social impact Tracey Herald.

“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”.

You can donate your old or unused smartphone to Community Calling by visiting Hubbub’s website.

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