The mobile phone network Tesco Mobile has announced a two-year partnership with the charity Crisis to help homeless people across Britain reconnect with society.
The partnership, which includes an initial donation of £700,000 worth of phones, devices and connectivity, aims to tackle growing digital exclusion in homeless people, as new data highlights increasing barriers among homeless people to accessing information, support and opportunities.
The announcement comes as a recent Crisis study revealed that over three-quarters of homeless charities and organisations have seen a rise in the number of people experiencing digital exclusion, such as lack of digital technology or internet access.
Tom Denyard, CEO of Tesco Mobile, said: “At Tesco Mobile we care for human connection. We believe passionately that everyone has the right to be connected and that mobile connection brings us all closer to other people, to society, and provides access to essential services.
“For many people living without a permanent home, digital connection is a necessary lifeline. An important part of our partnership with Crisis will be in helping to deliver connectivity to those who need it most.”
According to Crisis, over 170,000 families and individuals in Britain are experiencing the worst forms of homelessness such as rough sleeping and sofa-surfing – a figure that may yet be affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Crisis’ study found that three-quarters (75%) of homeless charities said a lack of digital technology is affecting their ability to support people experiencing homelessness, making digital exclusion one of the biggest challenges facing frontline services.
Starting today, Tesco Mobile is inviting its customers and members of the public to donate their old smartphones in support of Crisis’ Home for All Campaign. People are also being invited to make donations by text.
The mobile phone provider will also share its expertise with Crisis to help the charity develop its services and support people in making their journey out of homelessness.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Tesco Mobile at such a crucial point in time as we move out of lockdown. Access to a phone or to the internet has been vital for so many people throughout the pandemic to stay connected, yet it’s something we know people experiencing homelessness often don’t have, and this adds to feelings of isolation and anxiety.
“A lack of digital connection has become a huge challenge for our frontline services today. During lockdown, we provided 1000 mobile phones to clients to ensure they can continue to access support digitally, reconnect with family and friends and find somewhere safe and settled to live online.
“By working with Tesco Mobile, we will build on this work and ensure a far greater number of people experiencing homelessness across Great Britain can connect with Crisis and other vital services to help them end their homelessness for good.”
Tesco Mobile’s partnership with Crisis forms part of its Tesco Mobile Reconnects strategy, which will see the provider donate over £2.4 million of phones, devices and connectivity to help 13,000 vulnerable and disadvantaged people between now and 2023. It hopes to double this figure through public fundraising.
To get involved by donating an old smartphone, visit tescomobile.com/reconnects. Alternatively, members of the public can donate £2 by texting ‘Reconnects’ to 700043.
Image: A Crisis member at the London Crisis Skylight receiving a mobile phone from a Crisis staff member. Credit: Crisis