Residents and businesses in Swansea are being asked to donate their old smart phones to a scheme supporting others to stay in contact with family and friends and to access vital services.
Swansea Council and its partner Swansea Council for Voluntary Service are backing the Community Calling campaign run by Hubbub and O2.
It will see around 700 donated phones distributed to people in Swansea who are digitally excluded with O2 providing 12 months of free data and unlimited calls and texts.
So far around 150 residents in Swansea have benefited with people saying it has made a huge difference in reducing isolation.
The phones are distributed through a referral process to SCVS with current referral partners including Swansea YMCA, Swansea Tenancy Support Unit, Hafal, Pobl, Swansea Asylum Seekers Support, Platfform, Matthew’s House, Family Housing Association, Women’s Aid Swansea, Action for Children, the Wallich, the council’s Employability Service, Swansea Working and the council’s Local Area Coordinators.
Gifted phones need to be a smart phone, not have a cracked screen or back and must hold charge.
Ideally people are asked to remove all data before sending via freepost but they will be professionally data wiped before redistribution.
People have requested phones for all sorts of reasons including staying connected with friends and support services, help to look for jobs to get back into work, access to English language courses online, accessing services such as online banking and health appointments, contacting family abroad to feel less isolated and help to study online.
Alyson Pugh, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Supporting Communities, 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.
“I’d like to encourage anyone that has an unused smart phone 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. One local organisation, Coastal Housing, has donated 100 smart phones to the scheme, for which we are very grateful.”
Amanda Carr, Director of SCVS, said: “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.”
Rob Morgans, Resident Liaison Officer at Coastal Housing said: “We recently upgraded our mobile phones across the business and were looking for ways to do something positive with the devices being replaced.
“At Coastal we’re conscious of the impacts that data poverty and lack of digital access have on households and communities, so when we heard about the Community Calling project, we knew that was the way we wanted to go.”
To sign-up to gift your old smart phone visit: www.hubbub.org.uk/communitycalling
For further information or to request to become a referral partner, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.