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Greater Manchester Databank passes 20,000 SIM card milestone

Mobile phone - Likewize

The Greater Manchester Databank has passed the 20,000 SIM card milestone on its mission to provide mobile connectivity to residents of the city region facing digital exclusion.

Launched in June 2022 as part of Good Things Foundation and Virgin Media O2’s National Databank, the Greater Manchester Databank provides free SIMs and mobile data, as well as talk minutes and texts, to people who can’t afford mobile data packages.

Internet access is becoming as important as other basic utilities, and a lack of access can impact the ability to access healthcare, manage finances and stay connected, while the increasing strain of the cost-of-living crisis on household incomes mean millions of residents across the UK are unable to participate fully in today’s society.

It is estimated that 700,000 people in Greater Manchester only use the internet in a narrow or limited way, with 450,000 residents being classified as ‘non-users’. Since launching, the Greater Manchester Databank has issued the 20,000 SIMs to eligible residents in need through 100 Digital Inclusion Hubs – a growing network across the region. Hubs include women’s refuges, carer support organisations, libraries and foodbanks.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Over the last nine months the databank has provided mobile connectivity to over 20,000 residents facing levels of digital exclusion. This reinforces the scale of this challenge. Collectively, we need to do more to ensure our people aren’t disadvantaged and that everyone has equal access to the opportunity that digital brings, like ensuring residents can get connected and stay connected, particularly in the era of a cost-of-living crisis.

“The National Databank by Good Things Foundation and Virgin Media O2, of which the Greater Manchester Databank is part, is going a long way in helping us with an emergency response to tackle the issue of digital poverty and supporting our residents to ensure they do not get left behind.”

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