Not for Profit

Published: August 7, 2022 | Updated: August 8, 2022

New pilot scheme by Virgin Media O2 makes donations to Bournemouth Foodbank easier

Millie Earl, Fundraising Coordinator, Bournemouth Foodbank, with Chris Bucknill, Virgin Media O2 Field Manager. Picture: Richard Dawson/PA Photo.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Virgin Media O2 has launched an eight-week pilot scheme to make foodbank donations easier in Bournemouth.

Working with Bournemouth Foodbank and charity giving platform, Neighbourly, it is using engineer vans to collect donations.

The voluntary scheme aims to help hundreds of residents in Bournemouth who are in need this summer.

It will see a team of local Virgin Media technicians collect food, toiletries and devices from customers who would like to contribute.

Donations will be delivered directly to Bournemouth Foodbank. 

The trial comes as foodbanks across the country report an estimated 41 per cent increase in need over the last three months alone.

A recent survey also revealed that one in ten parents expect to need access to foodbanks or other related support this summer.

It’s set to put extra strain on foodbanks across the country as many are also experiencing a reduction in donations. 

As part of the pilot, Virgin Media customers in Bournemouth who have an installation booked will be notified of the initiative via an SMS.

Guidance will be provided on items that can be donated.

Customers will also have the option to donate old tech as part of Virgin Media O2’s on-going Community Calling scheme.

The initiative was created to tackle digital exclusion by rehoming devices to people across the country who face digital isolation.

To date, the scheme has rehomed more than 10,000 smartphones.

Jeff Dodds, pictured left, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We are committed to playing an active role in supporting the communities we serve.

“We hope this pilot has a genuine impact on the Bournemouth Foodbank and the people it supports.

“I am so proud of our technicians who have volunteered their time to take part and support the community.

“If every customer we visit on a weekly basis in Bournemouth donated just one item of food, it could help feed more than 400 additional people over the course of our trial.” 

Millie Earl, Fundraising Coordinator, Bournemouth Foodbank, said: “We are currently providing food and essentials to over a thousand people a month, a third of which are children.

“This is nearly double the number of people we were helping this time last year.

“As the price of food has gone up, donations to the Foodbank have gone down.  

That’s why we’re really pleased to be part of the Virgin Media O2 scheme to help us plug the gap and continue providing emergency food parcels to the poorest and most vulnerable people in our community.”

Steve Butterworth, pictured left, Chief Executive Officer at Neighbourly, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is causing a rapid growth in the demand for foodbanks and front-line support services.

“As the summer holidays hit, it is only going to get more challenging with families not able to rely on free school meals. 

“The work of Virgin Media O2 in pioneering new ways to support communities demonstrates a vital commitment to alleviating the increasing pressure on local charities and good causes.”