Press Release | 22 Sep 2021

Vodafone and Barnardo’s issue new appeal for devices to help refugees from Afghanistan arriving in the UK

Barnardo's needs your old devices to provide young Afghan refugees and their families with the connectivity they need to survive and thrive.

Vodafone UK and charity partner Barnardo’s today issued a new plea to the public and businesses across the UK to donate unwanted smartphones and tablets to ‘The Great British Tech Appeal’ specifically to help refugees arriving from Afghanistan.

Vodafone will add six months’ free data, calls and texts and work with Barnardo’s to get devices to Afghan young people and their families who’ve recently arrived in the UK. This will help them access vital support, mental health services and healthcare as well as stay in touch with friends and family in the UK. Donating tech is simple, fast and free of charge.

The UK Government has committed to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees, with 5,000 expected within the first year. Barnardo’s has reported a tenfold increase in families and young people waiting for devices and connectivity in recent weeks. In addition to government support, the devices will enable refugees to access Barnardo’s free and confidential helpline and webchat (BOLOH) for children and families from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. The helpline will provide specialist support and practical advice to help young refugees adjust to their new lives in the UK and deal with the emotional impact of their experiences.

Vodafone and Barnardo’s launched The Great British Tech Appeal in May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date the campaign has given devices and connectivity to 7,000 disadvantaged young people, enabling them to access education and essential services, and stay in touch with friends and family. The appeal remains open for donations, supported by a national campaign in partnership with Global Radio.

Charities working to support refugees from Afghanistan can also apply for free connectivity via Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative. This offers any registered charity in the UK the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to improve its digital capability, extend its services or help the individuals and families it supports to get online. In the month since the initiative launched, nearly 20 organisations that work to support refugees have applied. Registered charities can apply for the free connectivity, in the form of SIM cards with 20GB data, plus free calls and texts every month for six months.

Michelle Lee-Izu, Interim Co-CEO at Barnardo’s, said: “The thousands of children and young people who are arriving in the UK from Afghanistan are among the most vulnerable in our society.

“Many have experienced unimaginable trauma and distress, and we have an important role to play in giving them a warm welcome.

“Please help Barnardo’s and Vodafone give devices and connectivity to these young people so they can access the practical and emotional support they desperately need as they embark on their new lives in the UK.”

Ahmed Essam, CEO at Vodafone UK said: “I’m sure those watching the terrible scenes in Afghanistan have asked themselves what they can do to help. Many refugees arriving in the UK can’t access essential support because they don’t have the devices or connectivity they need.

“We are extremely grateful to the many people and businesses across the UK who’ve already donated to The Great British Tech Appeal. This is a special request to look again and send us any devices you no longer need.

“We will make sure – with Barnardo’s – that they reach Afghan young people and families most in need.”

The Great British Tech Appeal and Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative are part of Vodafone’s recently announced commitment to tackle digital exclusion and connect one million people by the end of 2022.


Notes to editors                                                                                                                                        

Barnardo’s is working with a wide range of other charities to reach families who have arrived in the UK from Afghanistan and been temporarily placed in hotel accommodation. To access the devices, families can either contact Barnardo’s direct via its BOLOH helpline or webchat, or be referred to Barnardo’s by another organisation. Barnardo’s will then contact the family to explore any other support needs and arrange for the device to be sent to them.

Donating devices

The Great British Tech Appeal is looking for any smartphone or tablet in working condition and donations can be made either in-store or online. Every device received by The Great British Tech Appeal will be re-boxed with a cable and charger and Vodafone will provide six months free data, calls and texts. Donating tech is simple, fast and free of charge.

Please note that we can only accept smartphones and tablets into The Great British Tech Appeal. Before sending your device, we recommend you reset the device to its default factory settings (e.g. no password or PIN or any cloud-based protection such as iCloud). Please also disable any ‘find my device’ functionality such as Find My iPhone; if this is not disabled, we won’t be able to process or donate your device. Please remove any SIM or storage cards before donating your device.

Any donated device that can’t be used (e.g. due to damage or software incompatibility) will be responsibly recycled via Vodafone’s existing accredited partners, reducing e-waste and the demand for rare-earth elements used in the manufacture of mobile phones and tablets. This supports Vodafone’s commitment to reducing e-waste; in 2019, it diverted 100% of network and e-waste from landfill and recycled 10 tonnes of used devices. Any funds raised will be donated back to the Great British Tech Appeal and used to finance additional devices and connectivity.

About Barnardo’s

Last year 358,800 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 800 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes. Visit to find out more.

Call the 24-hour press office number on 020 8498 7555.

Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605. Follow Barnardo’s media team on Twitter @BarnardosNews

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693


Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587