Tesco Mobile and the homeless charity Crisis are joining forces to help homeless people stay connected, and allow them access to essential information and services.

Homeless people will be given free smartphones to help them stay connected, with over 1,000 mobile phones given out since the start of lockdown already. A further 1,500 homeless people will be given phones in the scheme’s first year.

The phones come from old handsets donated by the public, and Tesco Mobile is giving the internet connectivity.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said the lack of digital connection during the pandemic has become a “huge challenge” and that addressing this will support charities’ work during a “really difficult and dangerous time”.

He said: “It’s really clear to us that, as well as the obvious things of not having a house or being able to afford a place to live, which are really awful things that people face when they’re homeless, there’s this sense of isolation and loneliness and the lack of connectivity that people feel as well.

“And that’s always been there, that’s something which is really important, certainly to our services – as well as helping people find somewhere to live and a job, we’re also looking at helping to connect them and the resilience that brings.”

The pandemic has “shone an even brighter light on that issue,” Sparkes said. With people being urged to self-isolate in order to protect themselves from the coronavirus, “the fact that they’re not able to connect has become even more important.”

You can find out more about the scheme on the Tesco mobile website.

Old phones which are still in good condition can be donated via the Tesco Mobile website here.