Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Unite & Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation are piloting a new course for change

(L-R) Jocelyn Helland, manager of the Broadway Youth Resource Centre (BYRC), Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Andrew Bridge, managing director, Virgin Mobile Canada together launched a new RE*Generation pilot program, Phones For Change, today in Vancouver. The program, initiated by Virgin Mobile Canada for RE*Generation and Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, will work with both Vancouver's BYRC and Winnipeg's Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), to give at-risk and homeless youth access to Virgin Mobile phones and plans - giving them a method of contact with employers, potential landlords, friends and support services. (Photo credit: Richard Lam) (CNW Group/Virgin Mobile Canada)

"Phones for Change" to give at-risk & homeless youth in Vancouver and Winnipeg access to Virgin Mobile phones without the worry of debt

VANCOUVER, Oct. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Virgin Mobile Canada and Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, were joined by Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, today to pilot a new program for homeless and at-risk youth. The program, Phones For Change, will work with two youth-serving organizations, Vancouver's Broadway Youth Resource Centre (BYRC) and Winnipeg's Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), to give at-risk and homeless youth access to Virgin Mobile phones and plans while educating them on the importance of financial management and how to escape the cycle of debt.

"I've always said that we should be using our businesses to create a lasting impact in this world - and this program does just that," said Sir Richard, founder of the Virgin Group. "With at-risk and homeless youth having so much to go without, a mobile phone is more than just an accessory - it's their lifeline to employment and services."

Introduced this morning in Vancouver with Sir Richard the Phones For Change program teaches transitioning youth how to develop life and financial management skills. Youth nominated by each organization will receive a Virgin Mobile phone that offers a method of contact with employers, potential landlords, friends and support services. The pilot program will run for one year in Vancouver and Winnipeg with the goal of expanding to more markets in 2013.

"Our goal with Phones For Change is to improve the lives of at-risk and homeless youth," says Andrew Bridge, managing director, Virgin Mobile Canada. "When we heard from our partners that phones can be such a lifeline for youth, it just made sense to find a way to help and build a program that could address this. As we see the impact that this pilot program can create, we hope to expand it even further in coming years."

Using phones to make a difference

In the coming months, youth from each organization will be screened for eligibility. Once nominated, youth receive a Virgin Mobile phone which includes a low cost monthly plan to meet their specific needs. While the plans are provided free of charge by Virgin Mobile, each organization will set up monthly bills that the youth are responsible for. The local organization will then use those monthly payments to contribute to the youth's pre-existing debt.

In addition to providing the phones and services, Virgin Mobile & Virgin Unite's RE*Generation will make social investments in each organization to support financial training and personal budgeting programs. While youth who are part of Phones for Change are asked to participate in these programs, the training program will be open to any youth who work with the local organization.

"Phones For Change can open new doors for youth involved in our program," said Jocelyn Helland, manager of the Broadway Youth Resource Centre. "At Broadway Youth Resource Centre, we offer almost every kind of support for at-risk and homeless youth; and now we can add financial literacy and debt support to the mix.   With this program, they will get the support and tools they need to move on to the bigger and brighter futures they deserve."

"The opportunity Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Mobile are providing for RaY is a wonderful example of how working together as a global village can make needed change in the world," said Kelly Holmes, executive director, Resource Assistance for Youth. "This not only gives street youth a lifeline to safety, but also an opportunity to learn financial literacy. Our thanks goes out to Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Unite and Virgin Mobile for thinking outside the box."

Virgin Mobile's RE*Generation Movement

In early 2008, Virgin Mobile Canada and Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin group of companies, joined together to create the RE*Generation movement and empower a generation to help its own.  The RE*Generation brings together organizations that care about Canada's homeless and at-risk youth and connects them with people who want to help. RE*Generation is a movement to support solutions to youth homelessness and support at-risk youth programs in Canada.  To date, more than $1.5 million has been raised and dispersed to leading youth serving agencies across the country through programs such as Change for a Dollar, limited edition Samsung RE*Generation phones and ongoing RE*Generation benefit concerts. The RE*Generation movement is working with a number of Canadian charitable partners to help get kids off the streets and onto a path for a brighter future. For more information visit http://www.virginunite.com or go to www.virginmobile.ca/regen to sign up and join the movement.

About Virgin Mobile Canada

Virgin Mobile Canada rewards, entertains and connects like no one else, delivering the super-hot phones on the blazing fast 4G network.  Virgin Mobile Members also get benefits like exclusive VIP access and deals and award-winning service. 91% of Members would also recommend Virgin Mobile to a friend.

The Virgin Mobile group of companies has attracted more than 18 million customers worldwide. Virgin Mobile phones are available at more than 4,000 locations nationally including The Source, Virgin Mobile retail locations and additional retail partners. Virgin Mobile products can also be purchased online or by calling 1-888-999-2321. Get personal with Virgin Mobile Canada on Facebook and Twitter.

About Virgin Unite

Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group. We unite people and entrepreneurial ideas to reinvent how we live and work in the world to help make people's lives better. Our aim is to do our bit to revolutionize the way businesses, government and the social sector work together - driving business as a force for good.  We also incubate new, independent approaches to leadership including the Elders, the Carbon War Room, and the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship. Virgin Unite's overheads are covered by Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100% of donations received go direct to the frontline where they are needed most. Join us at www.virginunite.com, follow us @virginunite and like us at facebook/virginunite.



 

Image with caption: "(L-R) Jocelyn Helland, manager of the Broadway Youth Resource Centre (BYRC), Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Andrew Bridge, managing director, Virgin Mobile Canada together launched a new RE*Generation pilot program, Phones For Change, today in Vancouver. The program, initiated by Virgin Mobile Canada for RE*Generation and Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, will work with both Vancouver's BYRC and Winnipeg's Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), to give at-risk and homeless youth access to Virgin Mobile phones and plans - giving them a method of contact with employers, potential landlords, friends and support services. (Photo credit: Richard Lam) (CNW Group/Virgin Mobile Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121004_C4243_PHOTO_EN_18936.jpg

SOURCE: Virgin Mobile Canada

For further information:

Axelle D'Anglemont
axelle.danglemont@hkstrategies.ca
604-710-4005

Erica Faltous
erica.faltous@virginmobile.ca
416-400-0171