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Vodafone and Barnardo’s ask for donated phones for Afghan refugees

Drawer-full of unwanted mobile phones and devices. Photo: Vodafone
Digging out unwanted phones and tablets to donate.

Vodafone UK and Barnardo’s are asking the public and businesses to donate unwanted smartphones and tablets to ‘The Great British Tech Appeal’ specifically to help refugees arriving from Afghanistan.

Vodafone will add six months’ free data, calls and texts and work with Barnardo’s to get devices to Afghan young people and their families who have recently arrived in the UK. 

Having these devices will help them access vital support, mental health services and healthcare and stay in touch with friends and family in the UK. In addition to government support, the devices will enable refugees to access Barnardo’s free and confidential helpline and webchat for children and families from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities (BOLOH). 


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The helpline will provide specialist support and practical advice to help young refugees adjust to their new lives in the UK and deal with the emotional impact of their experiences. 

The UK Government has committed to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees, with 5,000 expected within the first year. 

The appeal for donated tech follows Barnardo’s report that it has experienced a tenfold increase in families and young people waiting for devices and connectivity in recent weeks.

Afghan rug with depictions of armed conflict. Photo: Howard Lake
Afghan rug featuring symbols of armed conflict. Photo: Howard Lake

The Great British Tech Appeal

Vodafone and Barnardo’s launched The Great British Tech Appeal in May 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

So far donations to the campaign have resulted in devices and connectivity being given to 7,000 disadvantaged young people, enabling them to access education and essential services, and stay in touch with friends and family. 

The appeal remains open for donations, supported by a national campaign in partnership with Global Radio.

Vodafone support for charities supporting Afghan refugees

Charities that work to support refugees from Afghanistan can still apply for free connectivity via Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative. This takes the form of SIM cards with 20GB data, free calls and texts every month for six months.

This offers any registered charity in the UK the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to improve its digital capability, extend its services or help the individuals and families it supports to get online.

In the month since the initiative launched, nearly 20 organisations that work to support refugees have applied.

Michelle Lee-Izu, Interim Co-CEO at Barnardo’s, said: “The thousands of children and young people who are arriving in the UK from Afghanistan are among the most vulnerable in our society. Many have experienced unimaginable trauma and distress, and we have an important role to play in giving them a warm welcome.”  

The Great British Tech Appeal and charities.connected are part of Vodafone’s recently announced commitment to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022.

Ahmed Essam, CEO at Vodafone UK said: “I’m sure those watching the terrible scenes in Afghanistan have asked themselves what they can do to help… This is a special request to look again and send us any devices you no longer need. We will make sure – with Barnardo’s – that they reach Afghan young people and families most in need.” 

The Great British Tech Appeal and Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative are part of Vodafone’s recently announced commitment to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022.