A new initiative to provide devices and connectivity launches today in Swansea and Cardiff – SCVS and Housing Association Hafod are aiming to distribute 1,500 smartphones and tablets to individuals without digital access, as part of the Community Calling Campaign set up and run by O2 and environmental charity Hubbub.

SCVS in Swansea and Hafod in Cardiff have received the first smartphones and are encouraging local businesses and individuals to donate more devices, which will be data-wiped and cleaned before being redistributed.

The two organisations have already started identifying those with unmet digital needs, due to lack of access, affordability, confidence and skills. The beneficiaries will be given the much-needed devices to help them connect with loved ones and essential networks of support during the ongoing pandemic and thereafter.

NB: Individuals can only access smart phones through referral partners - if you have any questions, please email: [email protected]

A new report by Ofcom reveals that 13% of the Welsh population do not have access to the internet at home1. That’s an estimated 400,000 people in Wales for whom it’s a challenge to connect with family, friends and online support and information, something that many of us take for granted. With the donation of a device and 12 months of free data from O2 (6GB per month and unlimited calls and texts), the Community Calling campaign provides a lifeline for some of those individuals, who will also be able to access digital skills training at local support centres.

Amanda Carr, Director of SCVS, said

We're delighted to partner with Hubbub and O2 to bring Community Calling to Swansea. Throughout the pandemic, we've seen increasing evidence that households who are digitally excluded have struggled to access critical information, support and advice at such a difficult time. Community Calling, along with other schemes, will begin to change that, giving access to the world of online support to those that really need it, but who haven't been able to afford it. We ask everyone to check in the bottom of their kitchen drawers for smart phones that they aren't using anymore and donate them - they'll make such a difference!

Redia recieving a phone through the Community Calling scheme March 21One beneficiary of the Community Calling campaign is Redia, who SCVS knows through the Better Welcome to Swansea Project which helps to welcome and support asylum seekers and refugees to reduce isolation, encourage active participation, promote well-being and integration.

Redia moved to the UK in March 2020 just as the pandemic was beginning to unfold, which made it difficult to meet new people and make friends, and she also had concerns about her children not being able to go to school. She says that having her new smartphone is vital in giving her access to important information and services as she settles into her new life in Swansea.

Alyson Pugh, Cabinet Member for Supporting Communities at Swansea Council, said: “We know that the current pandemic has made it especially hard for people who are digitally excluded to stay connected to friends, family and communities, as well as accessing support services.  We are very pleased to be working with Hubbub, O2 and our partners across Swansea to deliver the Community Calling scheme to help improve digital inclusion.  The scheme will provide a great opportunity to increase digital inclusion including access to devices and development of digital skills and training.  I’d like to encourage anyone that has an unused smartphone or any organisations that might have unused smart phones to donate them to this scheme where they will be wiped of data, cleaned, repackaged and gifted to someone who would really benefit from it.”

The roll out of Community Calling in South Wales comes after a successful launch which has seen 3,000 smartphones donated in London, Manchester, Leeds and Bristol, helping people to get connected in the wake of rising inequality, poverty and employment challenges.

Gift your phone

155,000 tonnes of electronic waste are being thrown away each year in the UK2. At the same time, an average of four phones are sitting unused for every phone in use in the UK, so Community Calling is encouraging individuals and businesses in Wales to search their drawers and get involved by donating unused smartphones.

If you’d like to support the campaign and donate your old smartphones to Community Calling, click here to visit the Hubbub website.

It’s easy to sign up online - you’ll receive a free-post donation kit to post your old and workable smartphone, to be refurbished by trusted partner Reconome. It will be data-wiped, sanitised and redistributed with user guides and PAYG SIM cards. Alternatively, those who don’t have an old smartphone can choose to donate the cost of one- or two-month’s top-up for the beneficiaries by clicking here

O2 and Hubbub are also encouraging businesses to support the campaign by organising bulk device donations, offering financial contributions that can be put towards purchasing second-hand phones, or providing collection boxes in their offices.

Community Calling how to graphic mar21