By Andy Hirst

Huddersfield’s main food bank is now offering everyone it helps a free sim card so they can access vital frontline services.

The Welcome Centre helps thousands of people every year struggling to make ends meet and primarily provides free food.

But it also has an advice, guidance and support service that works side-by-side with the crisis food provision. This service aims to support people who need help by giving them access to grants and advice.

They have realised that many people without digital devices simply can’t access the help they need in today’s technological age without a smartphone.

Phone giant Vodafone has donated 1,400 sim cards to the centre over the last 18 months which means staff have been able to offer everyone who turns to it for help free sim cards with six months of free calls and texts along with 20GB data a month.

Now The Welcome Centre is appealing for people to donate their old smartphones so they can be given to clients working with its advice, guidance and support service who need a phone.

The phones should be restored to their factory settings and pin numbers removed so they can be unlocked before they are given away.

They can be dropped off at The Welcome Centre on Lord Street in Huddersfield town centre or at the charity’s warehouse on Queens Mill Industrial Estate, Queens Mill Road, Lockwood, Huddersfield, HD1 3RR.

In recent times the Welcome Centre has worked with Kirklees Digital Hub which has donated 23 reconditioned phones to the charity they have given to people with the free sim cards.

The hub is part of Kirklees Council which retrieves laptops and other electronic devices from various council departments, reconditions them and then shares them with organisations such as The Welcome Centre. 

The charity also has a laptop it can lend people and has provided two reconditioned laptops to people who needed them for work and study.

Welcome Centre deputy advice manager Charlie Taylor said: “It’s incredibly important we are able to offer our clients access to digital inclusion.

“Without access to the internet, our disadvantaged clients are further disadvantaged and unable to access things we take for granted such as their GP, repeat prescriptions, hospital appointments, universal credit journal and applying for identity documents such as a birth certificate or a provisional driving licence.

“Many of our supporting services require you to access them using technology and, although they may offer alternative access, this is often more time-consuming, involves a prolonged wait on the phone or costs more than purchasing it via the internet. A birth certificate is one example of this.

“Sadly, we know this technological barrier is one that many of our clients face. Donated phones will be given to those most in need of support with digital access.

“Everyone should have access to technology in a society where it is relied on so heavily.”

  • Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.