Hubbub and Virgin Media O2 launch digital lending program to clean up e-waste

Environmental group Hubbub and mobile operator Virgin Media O2 have given five charities a £400,000 share of their Tech Lending Community Fund to support programs that reduce e-waste and provide tablets and data to those in need.

The organizations said five organizations across the UK have received grants of between £55,000 and £83,000 which provide crucial support to women seeking refuge from domestic violence, refugees, asylum seekers and those at risk of homelessness.

The Tech Lending Community Fund also aims to support the circular economy, Hubbub said, as it provides an opportunity to ensure tablets are reused, extend their lifespan and prevent them from ending up in landfills as e-waste.

“This unique community lending program has two key benefits: it enables people who are most vulnerable to access essential services and stay in touch with loved ones, and it also fights e-waste by giving unwanted tablets a second life exists and keeps them from ending up in landfill or incineration,” said Alex Robinson, managing director of Hubbub.

Virgin Media O2 said it has ambitions to use the Tech Lending Community Fund to connect one million digitally excluded people through free or affordable connectivity and services by 2025.

The five charities that have received grants to participate in the equipment rental scheme are Thames Reach, Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women’s Organization, Willowacre Trust, Refuge and Leeds Refugee Forum.

Together they will provide more than 1,000 tablets for people living in shelters and who are digitally excluded. The tablets are powered by free O2 mobile data provided by the National Databank set up by Virgin Media O2 and the Good Things Foundation, a digital inclusion charity.

The organizations said they hoped the tablets and data would help people improve their digital skills and access essential services such as health appointments, psychological support, training, apply for jobs and attend virtual job interviews.

The grant fund is also supported by Amazon, which is providing an additional £100,000 to help cover the running costs of the credit centres.

The Tech Lending Community Fund builds on Hubbub and Virgin Media O2’s community calling program, which launched in 2020. They said the program has redistributed and recycled more than 10,000 donated smartphones since its inception.

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