The new partnership aims to help more than a quarter of a million people get connected by the end of 2023
Today, Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) and UK bakery chain Greggs have announced a new partnership that will see them work together to provide free mobile data to families struggling to pay bills during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
The programme, facilitated by the Greggs Hardship Fund, will see VMO2 provide free O2 SIM cards and voucher codes to families, providing up to 15GB of data. Eligible families will be able to access these resources through their schools, with VMO2 hoping to 255,000 people get connected by the end of 2023.
As of today, the project is being trialled in Scotland, the North East, South East, and the Midlands, with other regions of the UK potentially to be added in future.
The scheme is being conducted as part of the wider National Databank project, in which both Vodafone and Three are also participating. Described as a ‘food bank for data’ and operated by the Good Things Foundation (GTF), the project allows operators to donate free SIMS and data which is then delivered the people in need via GTF’s community partners network.
“We’re proud to see the National Databank go from strength to strength, providing free mobile data to people who need it. We’re delighted to welcome the Greggs Foundation, so we can support more families across the UK and help connect the disconnected,” said Nicola Green, VMO2’s Chief Communications and Corporate Affairs Officer.
Numerous operators in the UK have been taking notice of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, noting its potential for deepening the digital divide in the UK and furthering inequality for decades to come. Last month, Vodafone noted that the crisis was driving up the demand for connectivity, citing data from foodbanks obtained via their partner the Trussell Trust.
Earlier this week, five UK ISPs announced they were forming a consortium called the Rebel Alliance to campaign for the industry to make broadband services more affordable and accessible, particularly through offering social tariff, noting that existing discount tariffs were greatly under-subscribed.