Residents can bank on getting connected with their phones thanks to vital scheme

A person using their mobile phone.
Residents and refugees who are in data poverty can access the free data for up to 12 months.

Published: 14 October 2022

Rochdale Borough Council has joined in the bid to end data poverty by offering free mobile connection to residents on low incomes.

It works much like a food bank, giving data to people whose financial situation prevents them from having online access.

Individuals can benefit if they're 18 or over and from a low-income household. They also must not have access or have insufficient access to the internet at home or away from home, and they must not be in a position to afford their existing contract or top-up.

Residents and refugees who are in data poverty can access the free data for up to 12 months to be able to carry out everything from online banking, searching for jobs, interviews and contact with essential health services.

Councillor John Blundell, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “No one in today’s world should be forced out of being connected due to their circumstances.

“Everyone should have an equal right to be able to access the internet be it for reaching essential services or keeping in touch with loved ones.

“As this cost of living crisis deepens at least we have a drop of comfort knowing that those in data poverty can get online.”

An initial meeting is held with our digital coordinator who establishes which of three different offers of data is suitable. A SIM card is then installed into the person’s phone.

Most importantly, digital support is also offered. It is not just a case of ensuring connectivity, assistance is given with training and learning, if that is needed. That could be for such as how to get the best deals on energy or insurance. People are given the confidence to understand what they are doing and wanting to do.

The idea of the scheme, organised by the Good Things Foundation, is to reduce isolation and to improve people’s lives to be able to do what many of us take for granted. The aim being to reduce the poverty gap and make sure that everyone who wants to is able to be connected.

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