Press Release | 01 Feb 2021

Vodafone and Barnardo’s issue plea for public to donate to ‘the Great British Tech Appeal’ and help young people in desperate need during lockdown

The list of those waiting for a device via Barnardo’s has increased to as many as 730 since the start of the latest UK lockdown.

Vodafone UK, with charity partner Barnardo’s, today issued a new plea for the UK public and businesses to donate pre-loved smartphones and tablets to ‘The Great British Tech Appeal’ to help young people access support and mental health services during the January lockdown and beyond. Whilst the need for connectivity for education has been well publicised, there are also many families and young people unable to reach essential support services due to a lack of devices and connectivity. The list of those waiting for a device via Barnardo’s has increased to as many as 730 since the start of the latest UK lockdown.

In June 2020, Barnardo’s launched a rapid support programme for children and families affected by COVID-19 which has so far provided support for 48,328 children. In the first phase of the programme, 36% of children referred were lacking the digital connectivity essential to access the support they needed. Barnardo’s estimates that around 700,000 children and young people across the UK do not have adequate access to a computer or internet access at home.

The Great British Tech Appeal is looking for any smartphone or tablet in working condition. Donating tech is simple, fast and free of charge. Vodafone will add six months free unlimited data connectivity and, via Barnardo’s, redistribute the devices to children and families on the waiting list. This follows a successful appeal in summer 2020 that delivered devices to almost 2,500 people across the UK. For more information on how to donate, please visit the Vodafone UK website.

Aaron, aged 15, is a Barnardo’s Young Carer and looks after his Mother. He received a smartphone via the Great British Tech Appeal in July 2020 and said: “Having the phone has helped so much. I can keep in touch with Mum when she is in hospital and I feel less alone as I can easily talk to friends and family. I can even access school work on it and complete homework that is overdue.”

Cameron aged 19 who is a Business Student at Barnardo’s Employment, Training and Skills (Yorkshire) said: “Having the phone was a big benefit, I am now able to participate in online lessons. I found a job with a week or two of getting the phone.”

He added, “I was able to connect with people again, talk to family and friends – it really helped me.”

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures have hit vulnerable children especially hard. The lack of devices and affordable internet access means many children already at a disadvantage are falling further behind at school and missing out on vital support and opportunities. We’re delighted to be working with Vodafone to help provide vulnerable children with much needed technology so they can take part in lessons, access services, and work towards a positive future.”

Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director at Vodafone UK said: “When we heard about the rising number of people waiting for devices via Barnardo’s, we wanted to help. We know many people and businesses have already donated – or are using spare devices at home for remote learning – but we hope there might be some smartphones or tablets sitting unused, especially after Christmas. If you can help us by donating your device, we will make sure – with Barnardo’s – that it gets to those most in need.”

Vodafone has recently announced it will be providing unlimited data as part of the Department for Education’s (DfE) Get Help with Technology programme to increase data allowances for disadvantaged children. It has also provided 350,000 data SIMs to more than 9,000 schools and further education colleges across the UK as part of the Vodafone schools.connected programme. It is also working with other UK operators to enable the DfE-funded Oak National Academy to zero rate its online lessons to the end of this academic year.

To donate to The Great British Tech Appeal, complete a short online form to receive a donation kit with a flattened freepost box and pre-paid returns envelope. Devices can be posted at any post office or post box.


 Notes to editors

Ofcom estimates that 1.1 to 1.8 million children in the UK (9%) do not have home access to a laptop, desktop or tablet, and that about 900,000 children live in a household with only a mobile internet connection.

Donating devices

Please note that we can only accept smartphones and tablets into The Great British Tech Appeal. Before returning your device, we recommend you reset the device to its default factory settings (e.g. no password or pin number or any cloud-based data such as iCloud). Please also disable any ‘find my device’ security 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 memory 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 through 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 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

In 2019/2020 around 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.

We work to change the lives of vulnerable children in the UK and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.

Visit to find out how you can get involved. Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605

Follow Barnardo’s media team on Twitter @BarnardosNews

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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