Vodafone and Barnardo’s issue new appeal for devices to help Afghan refugees

Vodafone UK and charity partner Barnardo’s have issued a new plea to the public and businesses across the UK to donate unwanted smartphones and tablets to ‘The Great British Tech Appeal’ specifically to help refugees arriving from Afghanistan.

Vodafone will add six months’ free data, calls and texts and work with Barnardo’s to get devices to Afghan young people and their families who’ve recently arrived in the UK.  This will help them access vital support, mental health services and healthcare and stay in touch with friends and family in the UK. Donating tech is simple, fast and free of charge. For more information, please visit: vodafone.co.uk/techappeal

The UK Government has committed to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees, with 5,000 expected within the first year.  Barnardo’s has reported a tenfold increase in families and young people waiting for devices and connectivity in recent weeks. In addition to government support, the devices will enable refugees to access Barnardo’s free and confidential helpline and webchat for children and families from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities (BOLOH).  The helpline will provide specialist support and practical advice to help young refugees adjust to their new lives in the UK and deal with the emotional impact of their experiences.

Vodafone and Barnardo’s launched The Great British Tech Appeal in May 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. To date the campaign has given devices and connectivity to 7,000 disadvantaged young people, enabling them to access education and essential services, and stay in touch with friends and family. The appeal remains open for donations, supported by a national campaign in partnership with Global Radio.

Charities working to support refugees from Afghanistan can also apply for free connectivity via Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative. This offers any registered charity in the UK the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to improve its digital capability, extend its services or help the individuals and families it supports to get online. In the month since the initiative launched, nearly 20 organisations that work to support refugees have applied. Registered charities can apply for the free connectivity, in the form of SIM cards with 20GB data, plus free calls and texts every month for six months, here:  www.vodafone.com/charitiesconnected.

Michelle Lee-Izu, Co-CEO (interim) at Barnardo’s, said: “The thousands of children and young people who are arriving in the UK from Afghanistan are among the most vulnerable in our society. Many have experienced unimaginable trauma and distress, and we have an important role to play in giving them a warm welcome. Please help Barnardo’s and Vodafone give devices and connectivity to these young people so they can access the practical and emotional support they desperately need as they embark on their new lives in the UK.” 

Ahmed Essam, CEO at Vodafone UK said: “I’m sure those watching the terrible scenes in Afghanistan have asked themselves what they can do to help. Many refugees arriving in the UK can’t access essential support because they don’t have the devices or connectivity they need.  We are extremely grateful to the many people and businesses across the UK who’ve already donated to The Great British Tech Appeal. This is a special request to look again and send us any devices you no longer need. We will make sure – with Barnardo’s – that they reach Afghan young people and families most in need.”

The Great British Tech Appeal and Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative are part of Vodafone’s recently announced commitment to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022.

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