Coventry City Council has secured £80,000 to help expand its pioneering digital recycling scheme, the #CovConnects Device Bank.

The Council was awarded the funding following a successful application to the Time after Time fund late last year.

The fund was created and is distributed by Hubbub and Virgin Media O2 and looks to fund projects that help to close the digital divide while reducing electronic waste.  

A total of £500,000 is being shared across organisations and community projects across the country as part of the fund to help communities in need get online. 

The #CovConnects Device Bank launched last year. The project, which is part of the Council’s Digital Inclusion programme, aims to give community organisations and charities digital devices, which can be distributed to communities and residents. 

It launched on principles of circular economy, reusing and repairing Coventry City Council end of corporate life devices, which could be distributed across the city. It also received further investment from the WMCA Connected Services programme with brand new devices.

Over the past year, around 2,500 devices have been provided to organisations across the city.

Thanks to this funding, the programme can expand and accept an increased number of donations from partners across this city.

This means that the programme will be able to provide more organisations with devices thereby ensuring more vulnerable residents receive access to digital devices.

Cllr Richard Brown, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources, said: “Our #CovConnects programme is all about making sure none of our residents are digitally excluded. That’s why I’m delighted we’ve won this funding.

“This money will allow us to expand our efforts and get more of these devices into the hands of the most vulnerable. Having your own device, which you can use every day, is something that has the potential to completely transform your life. 

“This project is a true partnership with the NHS, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and other partners across the city. Together we can make Coventry truly digitally inclusive.”

Thanks to this funding, the #CovConnects Device Bank, will receive regular donations from NHS Integrated Care Board and Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust.

Phil Johns, Chief Executive Officer at NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “It is more important than ever that people have access to a device and are able to get online. Whether it’s allowing them to access health information and support, advancing their career prospects, or staying connected with family and friends – this scheme will play a vital role in improving the lives of some of Coventry’s most vulnerable residents.

“As an ICB, we’re committed to playing our part in reducing inequalities and improving the social and economic development of our local communities. That’s why we’re so pleased to be part of this important scheme and are looking forward to seeing the benefits it will have for local people.”

Digital Recycling is a key element within the Council’s Climate Change Strategy. In order to work out the environmental benefit of the scheme, the Council is working with colleagues from the WMG. Their research will in turn be shared nationally enabling organisations across the county to learn from the scheme.

Dr Russ Hall, at WMG - part of the University of Warwick - and member of the Coventry Climate Change Board, said: “It’s really important to be a part of this fantastic scheme. We want to research into reuse, remanufacture and recycling of digital equipment. This is a great example and we want to do all we can to help it flourish and grow. It has real environmental benefits as part of the circular economy and can play a vital role in overcoming digital exclusion.”

Gavin Ellis, Co-founder of Hubbub said: "There is an abundance of smart devices in households and businesses that have a potential to help the estimated 1.5 million households are digitally disconnected get online. These projects will tackle digital exclusion through research, training and the redistribution of devices and continue to raise awareness about the issues of e-waste and digital inclusion. We are thrilled to award this funding and look forward to seeing what these projects achieve.”

The Time After Time Fund forms part of Virgin Media O2’s sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan, and is helping the company achieve its goals of supporting people to carry out 10 million circular actions to tackle e-waste, and to connect 1 million digitally excluded people across the UK through free and affordable connectivity and services by the end of 2025.

Virgin Media O2 is also working to achieve zero waste operations and products by the end of 2025, and has removed 65 tonnes of single-use plastic since 2021 – the equivalent weight of five double-decker buses.

Dana Haidan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “Well done to CovConnects for their innovative and inspiring project that will cut e-waste and rehome tech with people who need it so they can get online.

“With this funding from Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub, it will transform communities across Coventry, to give tech a second life and help protect the planet.”

TV presenter and environmentalist George Clarke who helped judge the entries said: “I was blown away by the incredible entries to the Time After Time fund, which made the judging process extremely difficult, yet so worthwhile.

“The winning projects will put old tech to good use so it can be used again and again, and help people in need to access the online world. Huge congratulations to the winners!”   

For more on the Time after Time Fund, please visit

To find out more about the #CovConnects programme, visit our website -

Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub established the Time After Time fund in 2022 in response to the nation’s growing e-waste problem, with the UK producing more electrical waste per person than any other country in the world (except for Norway).

#CovConnects was selected as one of eight  winners from more than 120 entries by a panel of judges including TV presenter and environmentalist George Clarke, non-profit, Material Focus, digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, plus Hubbub and Virgin Media O2.

Published: Tuesday, 21st May 2024