Virgin Media O2 expands National Databank to tackle data poverty over Christmas

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Following a successful three-month trial, Virgin Media O2 is expanding its National Databank across the UK to tackle data poverty over Christmas.

A shocking 1.5 million homes in the UK are currently without internet access. This “digital divide” limits opportunities all year round, but it’s especially bleak around Christmas.

Lutz Schüler, Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Media O2, said:

“With many millions of people still facing digital exclusion, now is the time to come together and close the gap on digital inequality, and build a lasting legacy to help end data poverty for good. The success of the pilot scheme has shown us just how important the National Databank is to those who need it – and as it rolls out across the UK, we want to do even more.

Through our data pledge this Christmas, we’re calling on our customers to help us triple our original donation, and connect the disconnected when they need it most.”

7.5 million gigabytes of O2 data has already been donated through the scheme. Today, Virgin Media O2 has announced that it will gift 10GB of O2 data to the National Databank for every plan purchased between 1 November and 31 January.

Virgin Media O2 has partnered with the Good Things Foundation for its National Databank initiative to help ensure that, whatever happens, no-one will be without connectivity over the festive period.

Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive, Good Things Foundation, commented:

“Having sufficient data in our increasingly digital society is not a nice to have, it’s an absolute essential. With Christmas coming up and many set to spend the festive period alone, being connected to loved ones and to spend less on bills could make the world of difference and provide company to many for whom Christmas may be a lonely season

The National Databank – which can be thought of as a ‘food bank for data’ – is already doing great work to bridge the digital divide.

We’re very proud to be rolling out nationwide and we’re delighted that Virgin Media O2 is upping its data pledge this Christmas. Together, we can come together to help address the issue of data poverty in the UK once and for all.”

Christmas is about sharing memories with loved ones. Christmas last year was spent in lockdown and, for most of us, it was only our connections that allowed us to connect with the people we care about to prevent complete isolation.

Experts have warned that the current avoidance of minimal restrictions risks plunging the UK into a later, harsher lockdown as COVID-19 circulates with a resurgence of more typical winter viruses and once again puts unsustainable pressure on the country’s already struggling healthcare system.

A partial lockdown due to be announced by the Netherlands this evening – in a drastic turn of policy, after similarly believing a high vaccination rate would avoid another lockdown becoming a necessity – could be an early warning of the current direction for much of Europe. On Thursday, Austria also said it was days away from a lockdown.

Maria, a data voucher recipient from Birmingham, commented: “The donation has allowed me to order prescriptions and attend GP video calls and online physiotherapy sessions for my disabled mother, but most importantly it has provided an escape for me at a difficult time.”

The initiative aims to help over 255,000 people nationwide. To join or support the National Databank, visit here.

(Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash)

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