Homelessness charity Crisis is teaming up with Tesco Mobile to fight digital exclusion during the Covid-19 crisis.
Through the two-year partnership, the supermarket giant will donate an initial £700,000 worth of phones, devices and connectivity.
There are more than 170,000 homeless families in Britain, they said, with up to 76 per cent of homeless charities reporting an uptick in people struggling to access the digital information they need.
After the pandemic forced many into social isolation, digital exclusion is now considered one of the most major challenges facing frontline support services, with three-quarters of organisations saying a lack of technology or internet access impacted their ability to support homeless people.
Tesco Mobile is inviting people to donate their old smartphones or donate to the Crisis campaign Home for All.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Tesco Mobile at such a crucial point in time as we move out of lockdown. Access to a phone or to the internet has been vital for so many people throughout the pandemic to stay connected, yet it’s something we know people experiencing homelessness often don’t have, and this adds to feelings of isolation and anxiety.
“As thousands of people have been moved in from sleeping on our streets to hotels, we have been ensuring that we can continue to be there by adapting our services.
“During lockdown, we provided 1000 mobile phones to clients to ensure they can continue to access support digitally, reconnect with family and friends and find somewhere safe and settled to live online.
“By working with Tesco Mobile, we will build on this work and ensure a far greater number of people experiencing homelessness across Great Britain can connect with Crisis and other vital services to help them end their homelessness for good.”
Tesco Mobile revealed that up to 76 per cent of Brits don’t feel well-informed about how crucial phones and connectivity can be both for improving a homeless person’s quality of life and for ending homelessness altogether.
Tom Denyard, CEO of Tesco Mobile, said: “At Tesco Mobile we care for human connection. We believe passionately that everyone has the right to be connected and that mobile connection brings us all closer to other people, to society, and provides access to essential services.
“For many people living without a permanent home, digital connection is a necessary lifeline. An important part of our partnership with Crisis will be in helping to deliver connectivity to those who need it most.”
The partnership forms part of Tesco Mobile Reconnects, an initiative designed to get £2.4 million worth of devices and data donated to help 13,000 disadvantaged people reconnect with society by 2023.
Members of the public can donate an old smartphone or give £2 by texting Reconnects to 70004.