It has been populating the news, we are all discussing the tragedies unfolding, and it is unsurprising that more than 2 million Ukrainian citizens have fled their country since the invasion.
Place yourself in the position of a Ukrainian refugee, having to flee your home with nothing but what you can carry. Ask yourself, would you have brought your laptop? The answer for the majority of us will be a resounding no. Amongst clothes and sentimental items, it would be surprising if you even managed to bring your phone. Now imagine being alone in a foreign country, with no way to stay in contact with those back home- or to keep updated with what is happening to your country.
This is where it becomes clear that digital inclusion is so important, highlighted by recent events, but key for so many people (refuges from Ukraine, refugees from other countries and even those in our own nation). Staying connected extends to far beyond social media updates, it allows for access to job opportunities, healthcare, skills training and being able to feel part of the community you have found yourself in.
In times such as these, society calls upon the humanity of others to help those who need it the most. Which is why, at the DPA we are especially thankful toward the following companies for their care during these times:
- Vodafone, who are donating over 3,000 smartphones (connectivity included) as well as 1,000 power banks to Ukrainian refugees in the UK. Additionally, Vodafone has offered free connectivity and has partnered with the British Red Cross where they will match-fund donations to the Disasters Emergency committee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal https://www.vodafone.co.uk/mobile/everyone-connected/charities-connected
- Curry’s, who have made a £100,000 donation to the Red Cross, and their virtual mobile network, iD Mobile, has waived text and call charges to Ukrainian numbers for their UK based customers.
- EE, O2, BT and Three have announced all mobile phone contracts with Ukraine will not be charged. Three have announced that refugees arriving in the UK can access a free 30 day pay as you go SIM card with unlimited calls and data within the UK.
- The Unconnected organisation, who are working with NGO’s to ensure donations are being used to provide refurbished mobile devices and six months’ worth of connectivity to Ukrainian refugees.
- The British Red Cross, and other humanitarian organisations, are providing a range of support, including donated technical equipment, to refugees arriving in the UK.
The DPA and the Learning Foundation will be working with partner organisations to offer 200 laptops to families with young children who are arriving in the UK as refugees from Ukraine. If you are an organisation working with Ukrainian refugees and need access to devices, you can get in touch with us for more information.
As an individual, if you are seeking to respond to the Ukraine crisis, you can donate using the following links:
You can also find other ways to help through the Ukrainian Institute, including how to donate money, time and physical goods such as charging cables and power banks to be sent to Ukraine. https://ukrainianinstitute.org.uk/russias-war-against-ukraine-what-can-you-do-to-support-ukraine-ukrainians/
Natalie Jubb, Administrative and Policy Research Assistant, Digital Poverty Alliance.