Advertorial from O2

It's never been more important to stay connected

O2 and Good Things Foundation have launched the National Databank to make sure everyone can access essential online services and support – and keep in touch with loved ones. Sarah Reid explains how it works, and how it’s supporting Big Issue vendors

Illustration of a mobile phone

Together with O2. Illustration by Catherine Pearson

Advertorial from O2

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last two years, it’s the value of staying connected to the loved ones and friends who really matter to us.

But what if we never had it in the first place?

Across the UK, 1.5 million homes have no connection to the internet (Ofcom, 2021), meaning lives are lived on the fringes and everything’s so much harder than it needs to be. That’s why O2 is taking action.

The award-winning network understands better than most how digital connection is a necessity for everything from online shopping and banking to studying and GP appointments. Not to mention staying connected to the people we love. But millions of us are still locked out – that’s the reality of data poverty.

Covid has accelerated the shift to digital, and for many of us it felt like our entire lives were suddenly online. Connection kept us going when the world stopped – meanwhile, people who were yet to make the move online were left behind.

And the consequences of digital exclusion are far-reaching.

Not being online doesn’t just shut down opportunities like jobs and education, it’s a marker for poorer health and lower life expectancy. Downloading an app to access an online GP appointment feels like something from another world if you’re digitally excluded.

In from the cold this winter

Being locked out of the digital world means paying more for life’s essentials, being frozen out of welfare benefits, and not having a voice in the modern world.

Everything seems out of reach, while everyone else, turbo-charged by digital advantages, moves onwards and upwards.

It doesn’t have to be like this. O2 (and their reliable robot Bubl) have a plan to bring the digitally excluded inside from the cold this winter.

Together with social change charity Good Things Foundation, they’ve launched the National Databank to celebrate the power of connection and share the benefits with people who’ve been left behind.

It’s a buy-one-give-one model that works like a foodbank. For every plan O2 sells this Christmas, they’ll donate 10GB of data to the Databank so it’s there for someone who really needs it, absolutely free. Vouchers for the Databank are distributed by local community partners registered in the Online Centres Network, to the people they support.

This is O2’s way of making sure everyone can enjoy the opportunities that connection brings. It’s part of their data pledge to get more than 255,000 people connected by the end of 2023 – and triple the amount of O2 mobile data getting to the people who need it most, including refugees and survivors of domestic abuse.

It is important to The Big Issue, too. Since vendors started to offer cashless selling in 2019, many have seen sales swell by a third or more. Covid made this shift more urgent. And like all of us, vendors have people and places they desperately want to remain connected to, especially at Christmas.

You feel part of things

Big Issue vendor Rodney

After years living on the streets, Big Issue vendor Rodney is now online and he’s gone cashless, so his phone is a lifeline.

“I’ve just paid my bill, which means I’ve got it for a month now,” he says happily. “I can have a card reader, which increases my sales. Around 10 per cent of my customers now pay with a card but I need a mobile phone for that.

Big Issue vendor Rodney on his pitch
Big Issue vendor Rodney now has a card reader, which increases his sales and helps him feel more connected Photo: © Exposure Photo Agency

“I can ring The Big Issue office when I need to, I can do banking on my phone. When I check my balance, I know how many magazines I can afford to buy that day.

“My family are in Newcastle and I’m in Bournemouth, so being able to stay in touch when we’re so far apart has benefits for my mental health and wellbeing. You feel part of things.”

As part of its drive to help end the digital divide, O2 is reaching out to Big Issue vendors with data plans
to help 200 sellers go cashless and grow their business. With 7GB of data, as well as a free sim, unlimited calls and texts, they’ll be able to reconnect with family and friends just in time for Christmas. All this means that more Big Issue vendors than ever before will be joining Rodney in the digital world.

Being connected is no longer just a bonus, it’s a necessity. An O2 plan is a plan that gives something back. Get on board and help connect someone this Christmas. It’s a wonderful thing.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Why did humans never learn to fly?
Humans can't fly!
Evolution

Why did humans never learn to fly?

Why the car is such a perfect safe space for big conversations
This image shows two women inside a car during a daytime drive. The driver, wearing an orange sweater, is focused on the road while operating the car's controls. The passenger, in a red jacket, sits relaxed with her hands folded in her lap. The car's interior features a modern dashboard with a digital display for navigation. The view through the windshield shows a quiet, suburban road lined with greenery under a clear sky. The scene captures a moment of travel, possibly engaging in a conversation, in a comfortably appointed vehicle.
Sponsored post

Why the car is such a perfect safe space for big conversations

Letters: Rishi Sunak needs to educate himself on what it's like to be disabled
Letters

Letters: Rishi Sunak needs to educate himself on what it's like to be disabled

Farmers are under pressure from Brexit, Covid and war – pushing UK to verge of full-blown food crisis
Farming

Farmers are under pressure from Brexit, Covid and war – pushing UK to verge of full-blown food crisis

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know