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Virgin Money has teamed up with leading digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation to help tackle digital poverty, by giving people access to free sim cards provided by the innovative National Databank Programme in stores across the UK.

The National Databank, founded by Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation, is like a foodbank but provides free mobile data, texts and calls for people in need. Virgin Money is the first bank in the UK to sign up to the programme and will distribute O2 sim cards that will be loaded with 20GB of free data every month for six months, from 16 stores across the country.

Users can request a voucher from a local community support organisation registered with the National Databank and take it to their nearest Virgin Money store delivering the programme. Specially-trained hosts will work with users to register their sim cards, which provides enough data for around 220 hours of internet browsing per month, show them how to get online and offer tips on how to stay safe when browsing.

Virgin Money stores taking part include Aberdeen, Birmingham, Blackpool, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow Hillhead, Grimsby, Inverness, Kilmarnock, Leeds, Manchester, Montrose, Newcastle, Peterborough, Rotherham and Sheffield.

To celebrate joining forces with Good Things Foundation, whose national headquarters are based in Sheffield, Virgin Money hosted a special launch day at its Fargate store on Tuesday 29th November.

During the event, Hugh Chater, Chief Commercial Officer of Virgin Money and Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation invited guests to meet community group managers and hear about the positive impact the National Databank has on users.

A Chatham House roundtable, chaired by the Northern Powerhouse, also discussed the importance of tackling the digital divide and working together to reduce the poverty premium; the extra costs people on low incomes and living in poverty pay for essential products and services, such as pre-payment energy meters and monthly insurance premiums.

Hugh Chater, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Money, said: “For many low or no-income households, paying for data is simply another bill that they can’t afford. Without it however, they are missing out on accessing essential money management and support services such as benefits calculators, online job boards and price comparison sites that can help to reduce their monthly outgoings. Through our new partnership with Good Things Foundation and Virgin Media O2, we are working to tackle this digital divide and taking one step closer to ending the poverty premium.”

Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive at Good Things Foundation: “Having enough data in our increasingly digital society is not a nice to have, it’s an absolute essential. If you’re not online you can’t save money on products and services, help your children participate in home-learning, or apply for jobs. There are 2 million households struggling to afford internet access in the UK today, and 10 million adults lack the most basic digital skills. We’re very proud to be working together in partnership with Virgin Money and Virgin Media O2 to help tackle this and help even more people access the National Databank. Together, we can come together to help address the issue of data poverty in the UK once and for all.”

Partnering with Good Things Foundation is the latest in a number of actions Virgin Money is taking to help tackle the poverty premium among its customers and wider communities by 2030. Earlier this year the bank joined forces with Turn2Us to offer access to a free online benefits calculator. Virgin Money has also developed an online cost of living hub with advice on dealing with price rises and cutting bills. The bank also provides regular, free financial advice to its 6.5 million customers and signposting to support services for people that need extra help – whether they’re a customer or not.

To access Virgin Money’s cost of living support services, click here.

To find out more about National Databank or locate your nearest community organisation taking part in the programme, visit: Good Things Foundation Databank

For more information on Good Things Foundation visit here: Good Things Foundation.