A Bolton charity is appeal for old phones to give to the homeless.

Bolton NICE will fix up the old phones by volunteers and handed out to the homeless around Bolton.

They are launching a borough-wide initiative in the hope of providing vulnerable people who are unlikely to have reliable access to the internet with mobile phones donated by members of the public.

The campaign is accepting second-hand devices to give to those in need, along with guides on how to use them.

The charity will distribute all phones donated through their hubs located on Moor Lane and Washington Street to people living on the streets of Bolton, before distributing handsets in and around Manchester also.

The charity is still looking for a permanent base but, the latest initiative is hopeful to ‘help drive the charity forward’ says the Martin McLoughlin from the charity, “We sat down as trustees and said, well, what we'd like people to do is give them (homeless people) a phone, give them some airtime and let them phone home to try and get contact with family as a steppingstone to get out of the situation.

“Even if we give one person a phone and SIM, they've got a lifeline. Even if it’s for an emergency.

“You know, contacting 999 and 111 is very difficult for most people now especially with waiting times. So, for the homeless, it must be more worrying for them than it would be anyone else.”

The campaign is an extension of Vodafone’s ‘charities.connected’ initiative, which saw around 50,000 free SIMs distributed to homelessness charities across the UK, to help keep them in touch with family, access essential services or help with online learning.

Ahmed Essam, UK CEO, Vodafone, said: “I’m pleased we are supporting homelessness charities across the UK by providing free connectivity that doesn’t require a name or address.

“Being connected is vital to access support services and stay in touch with friends and family. Now more than ever, it’s important that we help those who are digitally excluded.

“We call on all registered charities to apply for free connectivity so we can help as many people as possible.”

Martin said: “We've probably got half a dozen phones so far, but most of them are damaged and need repairing.

“We've been lucky enough, as Bolton Council finally helped us get a small unit up out of Brosnan Street.

“So, the idea is to set up the food bank's up there, and to eventually set up a ‘men in sheds’ workshop. So, there's essentially men in ‘sheds’ that can do repairs and maintenance for the phones we will hopefully continue to collect and other items for those who need it.”

One volunteer, Alex McAllister, spoke of the impact he’d like the initiative to have on the public, with his main message being one thing he hopes people will take away from this.

“Being connected to loved ones and accessing essential services is easily taken for granted but is still not a reality for too many people,” he said.

“A lot of the people who do help us don't tend to be people who have money, they don't tend to be people at the top of the ladder.

“My one take away from this would be to make yourself proud. If I can make someone’s day that little bit better through my volunteering, then I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

He spoke of the people that he has helps on a day to day basis explaining: “There’s men that come in here who a few months back either tried to commit suicide or have been contemplating it.

The Bolton News: Martin McLoughlin

“They come in here for a brew, a chat or to volunteer and feel ten times better for it. You don’t have to have a lot, just sharing the post on social media or interacting with the charity is enough to make a difference for people who don’t have a lot.

“We’re calling on people and businesses with spare phones to donate them to somebody who needs a device to stay connected at what can be said as the most difficult point of their life.”

To donate your old phone, you can call Martin McLoughlin, Bolton NICE charity on 07900 535403

If you’re interested in volunteering visit Bolton NICE’s website: https://www.boltonnice.org.uk/index.html