Mobile phone giant T-Mobile this week put its weight behind fones4safety, a groundbreaking initiative in Southwark to recycle old mobile phones into personal safety alarms.
The phone company has also announced its commitment to help the drive to collect more mobile phones through a newspaper advertising appeal and its own collection efforts.
Deputy Leader of Southwark Council Caroline Pidgeon, who is backing the scheme, presented Victim Support Southwark with the new set of phones at a ceremony outside Southwark police station in Borough High Street on Tuesday afternoon.
Councillor Pidgeon, who was joined at the presentation by Superintendent Phil Manns of Southwark Police and Councillor Richard Porter, Executive Member for Community Support and Safety.
Cllr Pidgeon called for the Southwark residents to get behind the scheme: "I would like to thank T-Mobile for the support they have pledged to this initiative. fones4safety will help some of the most vulnerable members of our community to feel, and be, safer. It is good to see so many different parts of our community – voluntary organisations, the police, and business – coming together to get this scheme off the ground. I hope people in Southwark with old mobile phones around their house will get behind the scheme by donating their phones."
T-Mobile spokesman Adam Newton said: "We are delighted to be supporting this exciting scheme which will help provide security and comfort for some of the most vulnerable people in Southwark and beyond. Mobile telephones have changed all of our lives and I congratulate fones4safety for the vision they have shown in making this scheme happen. We look forward to helping them ensure it is a real success.
Mary Maurice-Jones, Chair of Victim Support Southwark said: "T-Mobile's support for the fones4safety scheme will be invaluable in opening up the scheme to a wider range of vulnerable groups. Currently, Victim Support Southwark does not have access to any existing police phones, which are themselves limited in number. This means that people who wouldn't want to go directly to the police and who are more likely to report abuse to Victim Support can still benefit from the scheme."
Aterah Nusrat, Project Co-ordinator from CRISP said: "We are very grateful to T-Mobile whose backing has got fones4safety off to a flying start. We hope local people will also get behind the scheme and send us their phones to be recycled. The more we collect the more vulnerable people we can help."
Under the scheme, fones4safety collects old mobile phones and has them re-configured into personal safety alarms. Once distributed to victims of violent crime, the alarms provide a free, one-touch dial service to the 999 operator. The devices also enable selected support agencies to keep in close contact with the user and provide much needed reassurance and support.
The main beneficiaries of the phones will be victims of crime and harassment, particularly domestic and racially motivated violence. It is hoped, over time, to extend this to other vulnerable groups including the elderly, sick and disabled.
fones4safety is being piloted in the Elephant & Castle and Bankside areas, with the aim of extending the scheme to cover other parts of the borough, Greater London and the UK. It has earned the support of Solicitor-General Harriet Harman, who launched the scheme at Tate Modern last month
People wanting to support the scheme can currently drop off old mobile phones with chargers at Walworth Road or Borough High Street Police Stations, at participating Southwark libraries, by sending up to three phones to CRISP, FREEPOST, LON15948, LONDON SE17 1BR or by contacting CRISP on 020 7740 6533 to arrange bulk collections.