Residents of an East Lancashire town could be eligible to receive free mobile data, texts, and calls as part of a new initiative between Virgin Money and Good Things Foundation.

The Good Things Foundation is the UK’s leading digital exclusion charity and they have teamed up with Virgin Money to help millions of people across the country by introducing the National Databank initiative.

The programme will be available across Virgin Money’s full network of stores, which includes Burnley.

Data compiled by Good Things Foundation shows one in 14 households in the UK have no home internet at all, more than 2.5 million households struggle to afford broadband, and 10.2m people lack the most basic digital skills to use the internet.

The National Databank works like a food bank, but provides free mobile data, texts, and calls for people in need.

Through the programme, anyone in Burnley who does not have regular access to the internet can visit the Virgin Money store in Manchester Road and pick up an O2 sim card loaded with 20GB of free data – enough for around 220 hours of internet browsing per month.

The free data allowance renews every month for six months.

Virgin Money stores further afield in Lancashire in Preston and Blackpool are also taking part in the programme.

Good Things Foundation has provided specialist training to the bank’s customer service staff to help them better identify and support individuals impacted by digital exclusion and signpost them to a nearby National Databnak.

In addition, through a range of initiatives, colleagues across the bank will help to raise awareness and secure donations to Good Thing Foundation’s National Device Bank programme, which works alongside the National Databank to provide free smart devices to people who are unable to afford them.

To help bridge the digital skills gap, Virgin Money and Good Things Foundation will work with Learn My Way, an online digital skills platform, to provide training to anyone looking to help to improve their knowledge of using the internet.

James Peirson, general counsel and purpose officer at Virgin Money, said: “Digital exclusion is a real issue in the UK and one that needs prioritising.

"For many low or no-income households, paying for broadband is often seen as a luxury that they can’t afford, but in reality, it is an essential purchase – especially in this digital age.

“That’s why we are proud to support the vital work of Good Things Foundation by making the National Databank programme easier for people in need to access across the UK.

"We are also keen to encourage other organisations that are in a position to help to join the initiative.

“Whether that’s by becoming a National Databank themselves or donating their old smart devices that would otherwise go to waste.

"Each small gesture goes towards making a huge difference, and by working together we can try put an end to the digital divide.”

Helen Miller, group chief executive at Good Things Foundation, added: “We’re delighted to help tackle digital exclusion by extending our partnership with Virgin Money to make the National Databank available to its full network of 91 stores.

“There are still two million households that struggle to afford internet access in the UK today, and 10 million adults lack the most basic digital skills. We need to act now.”