HARD-UP households struggling with their bills can access up to a year’s worth of free mobile data.
The National Databank provides free sims and mobile data (as well as talk minutes and texts) to people who are struggling to get online.
Likened to a food bank but for internet connectivity data, the scheme has been built with support from Virgin Media O2 who also donated data along with Vodafone and Three.
The databank aims to help 500,000 people via a community network run by the Good Things Foundation charity.
Do I qualify for the free data?
To be eligible for the data boost, you need to be at least 18 years old and must come from a low income household.
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You also have to qualify in one or several of the following statements:
- Has no access or insufficient access to the internet at home
- And/or has no or insufficient access to the internet when away from the home
- And/or cannot afford their existing monthly contract or top up
How does it work?
Staff and volunteers at online centres in the Good Things Foundation’s network assess the needs of people they support.
They then use the bank to obtain data and then share it out.
So to access the free data you have to first be receiving support from an online centre.
You can find details of your nearest online centre here.
The amount given out will vary. It will be decided based on your financial situation and how much data is available.
Support is also given to those who are struggling to use the internet, with tools on offer to help increase confidence and basic IT skills.
Tackling data poverty in the UK
The databank was first piloted with Virgin Media O2, and has now been rolled out nationally.
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In January 2022 the programme expanded with mobile internet data from Vodafone.
The Good Things Foundation are now calling on the rest of the UK’s mobile networks to join the National Databank, to ‘end data poverty for good’.
The data boost will be welcome as the cost of living crisis continues to bite for millions across the country- with many facing increasing levels of hardship.
A disabled woman spoke about how the cost of living crisis has effectively stopped her from getting out and about.
Maria Anderson-Cottee, 39, is wheelchair bound due to a spinal condition and husband Nick, 45, is her full-time carer.
The couple told of how the cost of living crisis means they can’t use their car and now Maria is “trapped at home”.
While times are hard, there are deals to be had for households who keep an eye out for bargains and support initiatives.
One such programme is the Household Support Fund where people are being given £200 to help them with their rising bills.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP) is handing out the fund through supermarket vouchers in partnership with Citizens Advice BCP.
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