Over 15 million smartphones could be donated to charity, Virgin Media O2 claims


  • Despite almost 15 million unused smartphones gathering dust in homes across the country, new research reveals Brits would rather sit in a bath of beans than donate their devices to charity

  • Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub are calling on people to donate their unwanted working smartphones to the Community Calling scheme so they can be rehomed with someone in need

  • Community Calling has donated 20,000 devices to people who need them, including victims of domestic abuse, refugees, and disadvantaged communities

Brits are more likely to sit in a bath of baked beans or stay silent for 24 hours to raise money for charity than donate their unused smartphones, according to new research from Virgin Media O2 and environmental charity, Hubbub.

Perhaps it’s because more than 4 in 10 people (44%) wrongly believe charities don’t accept smartphones, with almost 15 million unwanted devices gathering dust in homes and garages across the country.

Despite this, more than 7 in 10 of Brits feel guilty for not doing enough to support charities or those in need, with almost two-thirds (63%) saying they want to contribute more positively to society.

The survey reveals almost two-thirds (62%) donate to charity as they want to feel good about helping others, while nearly half (48%) will pass on an item to a good cause if they know it’ll have a positive impact on someone’s life.

More than half of Brits (53%) would want their phone to be rehomed with someone who needs it, and more than 4 in 10 (47%) believe donating their device is better for the planet as it can be given a second life rather than ending up in landfill as electronic waste. 

Donated devices transform lives

Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub are urging people to rehome their unwanted smartphones with people in need via its pioneering Community Calling scheme.

Community Calling was established in 2020 in response to the pandemic to provide smartphones to help people who couldn’t afford devices or connectivity to get online.  The initiative has now donated 20,000 devices to those who need them across the country, including victims of domestic abuse, refugees, and disadvantaged communities. Partners include Women’s Aid, Crisis, and Migrant Help, and Supporting Children with Diabetes.  

The devices are powered with free O2 mobile data from the National Databank, which was set up by Virgin Media O2 and charity, Good Things Foundation.

People across the UK can send their unwanted working smartphones to Community Calling for free where accredited tech partner, Genuine Solutions, will wipe data off their device before it is rehomed with someone who needs it.

Says Dana Haidan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Virgin Media O2:

“We know people in the UK want to do more to help communities in need, and with millions of unused phones stashed in drawers and garages, they’ve got the power to change lives by donating their devices to Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub’s Community Calling scheme.

“The quick and easy act of donating a phone will help people in need to get online and access essential services, like a booking a medical appointment, applying for a job or taking part in training, or keeping in touch with loved ones.”

Chris Price
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