UK operator Virgin Media O2 teamed with local charity Hubbub to urge consumers to give their old handsets for redistribution to disadvantaged communities, with the pair estimating there are nearly 15 million unused devices in the country.  

Making the call for donations, the operator cited a consumer study which found almost half of people polled were unaware charities even accepted mobile phones.

The pair are asking for working smartphones for their Community Calling scheme, where they will be redistributed to those in need including disadvantaged communities, refugees and victims of domestic abuse.

Since 2020 the charitable scheme has given out 20,000 devices with free data distributed by a foundation set-up by Virgin Media O2 and charity Good Things Foundation.

The operator’s chief sustainability officer Dana Haidan said with “millions of unused phones stashed in drawers and garages” people in the UK had “the power to change lives by donating their devices to Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub’s Community Calling scheme”.

“The quick and easy act of donating a phone will help people in need to get online and access essential services, like booking a medical appointment, applying for a job or taking part in training, or keeping in touch with loved ones.”