With new research revealing 11.4 million Brits are only one pay slip away from serious hardship, and are even limiting how they use their mobile phones to cut down on costs, Virgin Media O2 and charity, Good Things Foundation, are stepping up their support by opening the 1000th National Databank Hub to provide free mobile data to help people in need stay connected.
The study found the cost-of-living crisis is stopping 1 in 10 low-income Brits – those with household incomes of up to £25,000 – from calling or texting their loved ones, while 10 per cent are also limiting how they use their mobile data.
A further 70 per cent of those earning less than £25,000 say they don’t know what they’d do if they couldn’t access the internet, with almost 4 in 10 (38%) saying they rely on their phone to get online.
Meanwhile, the poll of 2,000 Brits also found a quarter don’t have money to spare beyond spending on the necessities, with more than half (56%) typically spending between 70 per cent to 90 per cent of their monthly pay on outgoings, including rent or mortgages, bills, and direct debits.
In addition, 22 per cent predict that they’d only be able to keep up with their normal lifestyle for a month or less if they lost their jobs, with the biggest concerns about being able to afford utilities (56%), food (47%) and 41 per cent fear they’ll get into debt.
1000th National Databank
To help people in need stay connected, Virgin Media O2 and the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, have opened the UK’s 1000th National Databank Hub, part of the National Digital Inclusion Network, at Summit Learning Trust in Birmingham
The National Databank, founded by Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation, is like a foodbank but provides free mobile data, texts, and calls, to help people in need to get online and stay connected to loved ones.
People in need can access 20GB of free O2 data – enough for around 220 hours of internet browsing – per month. People can find their nearest National Databank Hub here.
Since the National Databank was launched in July 2021, Virgin Media O2 has provided more than 70,000 free O2 SIM cards and 50,000 free O2 data vouchers. Virgin Media O2 has committed more than 61 million GB of free O2 data to the initiative by the end of 2025 and, at the end of last year, brought the National Databank to the High Street for the first time, trialling the initiative at 10 O2 stores over the Christmas period.
Keeping people connected
Demand for the National Databank is growing, with its website receiving almost double the number of visits in 2023 compared to this time last year as people search for how they can get help in staying connected during the cost-of-living crisis.
Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation have enlisted the help of television personality, Gail Porter, who has experienced homelessness herself, to raise awareness of how the National Databank is helping people in need to access free mobile data.