Features | 29 May 2024

Vodafone and the British Red Cross: The power of connectivity for people in crisis

Vodafone works with the British Red Cross, the largest independent provider of refugee and asylum seeker support services in the UK, to ensure those affected by crises have the digital tools needed to help them rebuild their lives.

Disasters are increasing, they are lasting longer, and they are affecting more of us. In fact, the United Nations estimates that almost 300 million people will need humanitarian assistance this year.

Staff and volunteers at the British Red Cross are working tirelessly to meet this growing need, getting life-changing support to people in their moment of crisis, and helping them rebuild and recover in the aftermath.

In today’s digital world, much of this relies on access to online services, making connectivity a key part of the support. However, not everyone is able to get – and stay – connected to the online world, which is where Vodafone plays its part.

“In my darkest hours the connectivity was my anchor”

This is how Vodafone’s free everyone.connected SIMs can be a lifeline to people otherwise struggling to access everyday essentials.

A lifeline in difficult times

Vodafone’s support for the British Red Cross stretches across a number of years. The company’s digital inclusion programme provided a lifeline to people at risk of isolation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance.

By donating thousands of SIM cards each year, Vodafone helps the British Red Cross ensure that people in vulnerable situations are not digitally excluded from the support they need during, and following, these crises.

In fact, since alone, Vodafone has donated 45,140 SIM cards through the charity, as part of its charities.connected initiative.

"Connectivity makes a massive difference to the people receiving it, often with things that the average person in the UK may take for granted."

“By having a SIM card, it means people can speak to family members abroad, often after not being in contact for weeks or months,” says Paul, one of the British Red Cross’s refugee services caseworkers.

“Having contact with absent loved ones can really make a positive difference to those experiencing negative mental health issues.”

Alongside support offered by the British Red Cross, this has helped:

  • 80% of people gain legal assistance;
  • 74% improve their mental health;
  • 72% to meet new people; and
  • 69% to get to know their local area.

“All in all, this connectivity makes a massive difference to the people receiving it, often with things that the average person in the UK may take for granted,” said Paul.

Digital divide: ‘People shouldn’t have to live without connectivity’

Nicki Lyons, Vodafone’s UK Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, went to Finsbury Park in North London to meet charity partner, The Trussell Trust, as it launched its 'Guarantee our Essentials’ campaign on Tuesday.

A legacy of impact

The British Red Cross has been there for people in crisis for over 150 years. Its support continues to be vital into 2024, with conflicts enduring and millions of people around the world affected by catastrophes such as the conflict in Ukraine.

Viktoria, a Ukrainian refugee now based in Leeds, explains why this support continues to be so important:

“Upon our arrival in Leeds, we were unable to access government aid, which left us feeling isolated. However, the invaluable support provided by the British Red Cross gave us hope. Above all else, it reassured us that we were not alone.”

Ukraine conflict: Vodafone and customers raise £375,000 for British Red Cross appeal

Vodafone and its customers have raised £375,000 for the British Red Cross Ukraine appeal, funding vital aid, from SIMs to mental health support, for all those affected by the conflict.

In the face of these challenges, SIM cards remain a critical part of the humanitarian toolkit to help people cope with, and recover from, disasters.

With Vodafone and the public’s support, the British Red Cross can keep providing essential care to people affected by conflict and catastrophe. Care that includes connectivity, so people can get the help and support they desperately need.

Learn more about Vodafone’s programme and the British Red Cross. And stay up to date with the latest news from Vodafone by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter/X, as well as signing up for News Centre website notifications.