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Virgin Media O2 to roll out more free mobile data through stores & charities

Melanie May | 4 December 2023 | News

A hand holds up a Virgin Media O2 data card in front of a computer screen that says National Databank

Virgin Media O2 is rolling out the National Databank to all O2-owned stores and through two homelessness charities nationwide, alongside increasing the amount of data available to those who need it.

The National Databank, created by Virgin Media O2 and the Good Things Foundation, is like a foodbank for data, providing free O2 mobile data, texts and calls. Virgin Media O2 has committed more than 61 million GB of O2 data to the initiative by the end of 2025.

From 7 December, more than 240 O2 stores across the UK will start to become National Databank Digital Inclusion Hubs, providing free O2 data to anyone experiencing data poverty, regardless of their mobile provider. This follows a successful pilot of the National Databank in 10 O2 stores last Christmas.

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Research commissioned by Virgin Media O2 found that almost two thirds (64%) of 2,000 respondents think this winter and Christmas will be tougher financially than last year, and more than half (52%) say they are uncertain or worried about their finances over the next 12 months.

In addition, more than 8 in 10 people on household incomes less than £17,000 are considering going without mobile data to help them afford other bills.

In response, Virgin Media O2 has boosted the amount of free O2 data available via all National Databank Digital Inclusion Hubs to 25GB per month for six months – which is enough for around 275 hours of internet browsing per month.  

Expansion through Crisis & Change Please

Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation are also supporting people experiencing, and at risk of, homelessness this winter and beyond by expanding the National Databank to charities, Crisis and Change Please – Driving for Change. 

As well as offering free O2 data, texts and calls via the National Databank, both charities will provide free second-hand smartphones to their guests from the Community Calling programme – run by Virgin Media O2 and environmental charity, Hubbub.

Crisis will offer the scheme via its nine Skylight Centres across Great Britain – with all centres also being offered free WiFi from Virgin Media O2. Change Please will take the National Databank on the road via its Driving for Change buses which stop in deprived communities across London and provide hygiene and dental care.  

Henrietta MacEwen, Head of Partnerships, Driving for Change, said:

“All of us at Change Please – Driving for Change know how vital it is to have data and phone access for people experiencing homelessness.  This provides a lifeline and gives vital access for information on services and the charities like us who can help someone in need.

 

“We live in a 24/7 online society, and no one should be excluded from that. This partnership with Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation will give the most vulnerable people the opportunity to access crucial services via phone and online who can guide and support them in changing their lives long-term.”

With O2 stores, Crisis and Change Please – Driving for Change becoming National Databank Digital Inclusion Hubs, the National Databank will be available at more than 1,600 locations across the UK. People can find their nearest Hub here.

Eligibility criteria for free mobile data

People can have access to data from the National Databank for up to 12 months. To be eligible, they must be 18+ years old and from a low-income household, and meet one or several of the following statements:

Rob Orr, Chief Operations Officer at Virgin Media O2, said:

“To help people most affected by the cost-of-living crisis, we’re opening the doors to more National Databank Digital Inclusion Hubs than ever before and making it easier for people to get connected.

 

“With O2 stores, Crisis’ Skylight Centres and Driving for Change’s buses becoming Databanks, and Virgin Media O2 boosting free O2 mobile data to 25GB per month, there are more places for people in need to get help so they can get online, access essential services, and keep in touch with loved ones this Christmas and beyond.”

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