Barclays have made a donation of £100,000 to City Hearts charity, allowing the charity to provide much needed tablets and internet devices to the survivors of modern slavery they support.

Recognising the impact of COVID-19 was felt by charities and the most vulnerable they support nationwide, Barclays announced a £100m Community Aid Package last year.

City Hearts is one of Barclays’ UK charity partners, chosen for the vital work they are doing to support survivors of modern slavery across the UK.

For the past 16 years, City Hearts has supported thousands of men, women and children rescued from slavery. Through their immediate and long-term support services, they meet the physical and psychological needs of some of the most vulnerable and exploited people on the planet.

The donation meant the charity could distribute 221 tablets, 400 Mi-Fi routers and 400 unlimited data sims – which provided five months of unlimited free internet access for clients around the UK, including South Yorkshire, the Northwest, and Northeast of England.

Katherine Hawkes is a coordinator for the City Hearts Integrated Support Programme in the Northwest and saw first-hand the impact of the donation.

“One of our modern slavery survivors was a mum with children,” said Katherine. “She told me the device and free WiFi was very useful because her children could then access everything they needed-particularly homework and online lessons during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, her children’s school wasn’t able to provide internet, so the fact we had Barclays’ generous donations meant they had a way to access their lessons. Mum also said having the internet made them really happy as a family.  Despite being unable to go out during lockdown, the family enjoyed watching their favourite cartoons and films. It brought them together.”

Phill Clayton, head of development at City Hearts, explained: “Many of our clients face digital poverty as they cannot afford to purchase laptops or tablets, and even if they can, they are then unable to pay for ongoing Wi-Fi.

“This has been particularly difficult during the pandemic, as many of our clients have been unable to do their food shopping online, access crucial online counselling, medical services and schooling for their children. We are so grateful to Barclays for this donation, which enables us to provide hundreds of tablets, and Wi-Fi devices to the men, women and families we support.”

Nigel Higgins, Barclays chairman, said: “COVID-19 has created an unprecedented social and economic impact in the UK, with many experiencing greater hardship due to the crisis.

“Incredible charities have been playing a vital role in the UK’s response to the pandemic, ensuring urgent help reaches those most in need of support.

“As a bank we have been doing all we can for our customers, clients and colleagues, and we hope that by partnering with City Hearts and many other charities across the UK, collectively we can ensure that as many people as possible in the communities in which we live and work are supported through this crisis.”