VULNERABLE and disadvantaged people across Basildon are being provided with free smartphones to help them overcome their difficulties.

Around 1,000 mobile phones are being given to residents across the borough enabling them to have free texts and calls for the next two years.

The phones will be given to people currently out of employment or training to help them get back to work, and disabled and elderly residents to help them become better integrated in society.

Twenty-seven phones will also be given to women being helped by Basildon Women’s Aid, which provides refuge for women and their children who are the victim of domestic abuse.

They will help victims keep in touch with family members and contact people such as solicitors and housing departments who could help them escape a life of violence, isolation and fear.

Lyn Headley, CEO at Basildon Women’s Aid, said: “The phones will be a tremendous help for families escaping from an abusive home and will also have a great impact on our telephone costs allowing much sought after funds to be spent helping the families at the refuge.”

The initiative, entitled “1,000 Chances to Help” has been launched by the Swan Foundation, in a bid to combat social exclusion in the community.

Pamela Brown, head of the foundation, said: “There are so many young people out of work at the moment that we are at risk of losing a generation if we do not help them. We are also acutely aware of the impact of domestic violence and the courage it takes to leave, and are delighted that we have been able to help though the distribution of the smart phones."