The public and businesses across the UK have been urged to donate unwanted smartphones and tablets to help refugees arriving from Afghanistan.
As part of The Great British Tech Appeal, mobile operator Vodafone and charity Barnardo’s hope to provide Afghans arriving in the UK with devices and data to access vital support and stay in touch with friends and family.
The Government has pledged to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees, with 5,000 expected within the first year, and Barnardo’s says it has seen a tenfold increase in families and young people waiting for devices and connectivity in recent weeks.
Vodafone has said it will add six months’ free data, calls and texts to donated devices as part of the scheme, which was first launched in May 2020 in response to the pandemic to help disadvantaged young people get the connectivity needed to access education and other essential services.
It has so far helped 7,000 young people receive such help.
Michelle Lee-Izu, interim chief executive 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.
Video: How you can help Afghan refugees coming to UK (Sky News)
“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.”
Vodafone has previously announced a commitment to tackle digital exclusion and said it hopes to connect one million people by the end of 2022.
“I’m sure those watching the terrible scenes in Afghanistan have asked themselves what they can do to help,” Vodafone UK chief executive Ahmed Essam said.
“Many refugees arriving in the UK cannot access essential support because they do not 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.”