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Virgin Media O2 expands national databank scheme for Christmas

A national databank for people struggling to access mobile data is to be expanded to more than 1,000 locations across the UK this Christmas.

Virgin Media O2, which created the national databank alongside charity Good Things Foundation, said all 240 O2-owned stores would become national digital inclusion hubs from December 7.

In addition, the scheme is being expanded to two homeless charities: Crisis and Change Please – Driving For Change; meaning more than 1,600 locations across the UK will have access to the databank, enabling those in need to get free O2 data, texts and calls regardless of their provider.

Virgin Media O2 said it was also boosting the amount of free data available; people who need it will now be able to get 25GB a month for six months, enough for about 275 hours of internet browsing a month.

The company said the data can help people access essential services, such as: finding a place to stay; locating food banks; accessing online medical help; and contacting loved ones.

The national databank works as a foodbank for data, offering the connectivity to those who need it but struggle to access it.

As well as offering the data, the two homeless charities will provide free second-hand smartphones to their guests via Virgin Media O2’s community calling scheme, which the telecoms firm runs with environmental charity, Hubbub.

Rob Orr, chief operations officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “To help people most affected by the cost-of-living crisis, we’re opening the doors to more national databank digital inclusion hubs than ever before and making it easier for people to get connected.

“With O2 stores, Crisis’ Skylight Centres and Driving for Change’s buses becoming databanks, and Virgin Media O2 boosting free O2 mobile data to 25GB per month, there are more places for people in need to get help so they can get online, access essential services, and keep in touch with loved ones this Christmas and beyond.”