On a sunny Tuesday in Victoria Park, representatives from new Scots community groups met with Glasgow North-West MP Carol Monaghan.

The purpose of the meeting was for the groups to receive 40 mobile phones donated by Carol Monaghan under the O2 Community Calling Scheme.

The programme, which is run by O2 and Hubbub, aims to donate 1500 smart phones to digitally excluded families and communities across Glasgow. Members of the public and businesses are encouraged to donate their old phones to help other Glasgow residents overcome digital exclusion.

In Scotland, there are over 928 000 people who are facing digital exclusion – meaning that they are unable to access the internet, stay connected with others, and access support services remotely.

Under the scheme, O2 is donating a web-connected handset and 12 months of free connectivity to all Community Calling beneficiaries, which includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data per month for a full year. A representative from O2 was also in attendance.

The groups gifted Carol with a t-shirt as a thankyou, and chatted with her about the work of a wide range of community groups from across the city aswell as UK Immigration policy and the current crisis in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, funding from Foundation Scotland and CORRA Foundation enabled us to run a scheme to improve digital resilience for refugee-led community groups. As part of this scheme, Digital Champions from each group were trained up by Zagros Community Organisation. These mobile phones will go towards enhancing digital inclusion for these community groups, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support their communities.

Representatives from Heart of Africa, BJO Amara Association, Afric Alba, The Builders, Friends for All Project, Persian Scottish Community, Nigerian Community and African community network, as well as Scottish Refugee Council, connected, shared stories and refreshments, and enjoyed a photoshoot in the sun.

Carol Monaghan: “I was delighted to hand over 40 smart phones to the Scottish Refugee Council on behalf of the O2 Community Calling programme. They are an incredibly deserving organisation, who do fantastic work for refugee and asylum seeker communities not just in Glasgow, but all over Scotland.

“Digital exclusion is a very serious problem. If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it is that digital connection with others and remote access to services are vital. During the pandemic, the vast majority of us relied on the internet and digital devices to keep in touch with loved ones, carry out our jobs, support our children’s education, search for employment, keep our households going, and for entertainment and escapism in very difficult times. A lack of access to these resources is a daunting thought for all of us, let alone for those who have already escaped danger and persecution to reach Scotland.

“As such, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet with the Scottish Refugee Council this week to donate the phones. I had the chance to speak with Community Representatives, and to hear about the Council’s Digital Champions scheme which tackles digital exclusion amongst refugee-led groups.

“I very much look forward to working with the Scottish Refugee Council again in the future. As a life-long Glasgow resident, I can say with absolute certainty: Glasgow, and Scotland, welcomes refugees and asylum seekers.

“Additionally, I would encourage businesses and members of the public to donate their old smart phones to the O2 Community Calling scheme. This will allow other community-based organisations to tackle digital exclusion amongst deserving groups.”

Simon Miller, Virgin Media O2 Deputy Head of Public Affairs & Regional Affairs, said:

“O2 is committed to taking practical steps to fight digital exclusion and to deliver connectivity to vulnerable individuals who need it the most.  That’s what Community Calling is all about and we are delighted to be working with Carol Monaghan to roll out the Community Calling programme in Glasgow.”



Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah