Printed Date: 21/02/2024

GLL-operated libraries battle digital exclusion with free SIM card scheme

More than 60 libraries operated by charitable social enterprise GLL, have this week launched a scheme to provide nearly 16,000 free SIM cards to residents on low incomes and those who are struggling with the cost of living.

Libraries located in London’s Bromley, Greenwich and Wandsworth, along with those in Dudley and Lincolnshire will be distributing the cards, building on GLL’s existing Warm Spaces initiative – set up to support those struggling to afford sharp rises in utility bills.

The ability to offer free SIM cards is the result of a successful application to the Good Things Foundation and courtesy of mobile phone network operators 3, 02 and Vodafone.  Referrals will be made through local community groups such as food banks, faith groups and charities; while anyone aged over 18 years and in receipt of benefits can apply directly to their local GLL-operated library.

The scheme will offer a way to stay connected for anyone cut off from the basic daily online activities most people take for granted, such as contacting loved ones, accessing job interviews, paying bills and finding information.

Diana Edmonds MBE, National Libraries Director at GLL said: “Access to digital services is a crucial part of day-to-day life today.  Being digitally disenfranchised means families miss out on home-learning and individuals are unable to apply for jobs or to pay bills.

“The libraries we operate are at the heart of local communities and we are already providing a wealth of support to help local residents navigate the cost of living crisis. This ranges from providing warm spaces for those unable to heat their homes, to free refreshments, WIFI and computer access.  Our libraries also run a wide variety of free social and educational activities for all ages.  We are delighted to be able to extend that offering even further, by helping to make sure no-one experiences data poverty in their homes.”

Anyone wishing to apply for a free SIM card should visit their local GLL-operated library.  https://www.better.org.uk/libraries  

 

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