Virgin Media O2 is offering free mobile data, calls and texts to low-income families to help them stay connected over the summer holidays.
The initiative can be accessed through one of the network providers’ 1,300 National Databank Hubs located across the UK, which have been launched in partnership with digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation.
Dana Haidan, chief sustainability officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “As the summer holidays begin at such a financially challenging time for low-income families, we know many parents are worried about keeping their children online and entertained over the break.
“That’s why we’re helping families stay connected with the National Databank where they can access 20GB of free O2 mobile data every month to help their kids stay in touch with their friends and up to date with their learning, supporting their mental health and wellbeing, too.
Parents can access up to 20GB of free O2 data per month for six months, along with free texts and calls, which is enough for around 220 hours of internet browsing per month. People can find their nearest National Databank Hub here.
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The initiative follows research from the firm that revealed up to 81 percent of those with a household income of less than £15,000 say their family’s mobile data usage will increase over the summer holidays. Seven in 10 of them said they’ll struggle to afford to keep their kids connected.
More than three-quarters worry they’ll have to pay more to keep their households online, with low-income Britons estimating they’ll spend an extra £27 over the holidays on mobile data to keep their children occupied.
Tamara, a mum of three from Birmingham who receives O2 mobile data from SmartLyte – Get Families Talking, a National Databank Hub based in the city, said: “The data means that I can continue working over the summer holidays and the children can learn, keep up with homework and play games together.
“They can contact their friends and video call their grandmother. It would be a really difficult summer without the data.”
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Virgin Media O2 has committed more than 61 million GB of free O2 data to the National Databank by the end of 2025 and, since the initiative was launched in July 2021, the organisation has provided more than 85,000 free O2 SIM cards and more than 80,000 free O2 data vouchers.
In addition, Virgin Media O2 is supporting the National Device Bank where people can access donated tablets and laptops to help their families get online.
Helen Milner OBE, group chief executive at the Good Things Foundation, said: “The cost of living crisis is affecting families in the UK more than ever, as these alarming statistics show.
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“Parents and families – so many of whom are already struggling with day-to-day living – shouldn’t be worrying about staying online over the school holidays. That’s why Good Things Foundation and Virgin Media O2’s National Databank is tackling digital exclusion through a combined offer of devices, data and digital skills support.
“With one in 20 UK households having no home internet access, collectively we all need to do more to help the most vulnerable people in our society connect with digital.
“This underpins our 2022 to 2025 strategy, asking for more ambitious and far-reaching change as we scale up and expand our work in the UK. Together, we can fix the digital divide – for good.”
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