The National Databank is giving free mobile data to people who can’t afford their internet connection. This is particularly important as more people fall into data poverty and need to stay connected.
The National Databank is a ‘national food bank for connectivity data’. It is run by Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, and as of September 2022 has enough data to help almost 500,000 people, donated by Virgin Media, O2, Vodafone, and Three Mobile.
Any community-based organisation that directly supports people experiencing data poverty can sign up to the National Databank. Each month, the organisation can apply for SIMs to give to the people they support. SIMs are posted to the organisation which can then distribute to those in need.
Good Things Foundation also offers free resources and training to help community-based organisations support people to build their confidence with technology and learn basic digital skills.
There are three data offers from the National Databank:
- O2 – 20Gb/month, free texts and calls for up to 12 months
- Vodafone – 20GB/month, free texts and calls for up to 12 months
- Three Mobile – 24Gb in total, data only, can be used until data finishes.
Please note: For the O2 data offer, the SIM can be used in a MiFi but a phone would also be required to receive the monthly voucher code required to keep connectivity going. The Vodafone and Three SIMs can be used in a MiFi without a phone.
People receiving data from the National Databank must be:
- 18+ years old
- From a low-income household
- And qualify in at least one of the following statements:
- Has no access or insufficient access to the internet at home
- AND/OR has no or insufficient access to the internet when away from the home
- AND/OR cannot afford their existing monthly contract or top-up.
To sign up to the National Databank, a community organisation needs to join the National Digital Inclusion Network first.
The National Digital Inclusion Network is overseen by Good Things Foundation and is made up of thousands of grassroots organisations across the UK. It is for organisations that want to support people in their communities to benefit from the internet.
The Network is free to join and offers a range of free services, such as:
- Access to the National Databank
- Free training and resources
- Networking opportunities
- Access to Good Things Foundation’s online learning platform for basic digital skills, Learn My Way.
You can join the National Digital Inclusion Network by clicking here, and then sign up to the National Databank by clicking here.
Databank applications are reviewed after the end of each month, so if an organisation applies in September, they will be notified of the outcome by mid-October. Organisations need to keep a record of all data, and there is a light touch monthly reporting requirement using a simple survey form.
You can also find out more at the monthly Databank online Q&A session run by Good Things Foundation: it’s on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 am. Click here to book your place at the next session.