Telus and Rogers will provide free phones and data plans for women experiencing domestic violence and frontline workers helping them.
According to Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), women experiencing violence are facing a greater threat than most during the pandemic. Travel restrictions can trap those who are trying to leave unsafe conditions.
“One of the hallmarks of an abusive relationship is isolation,” said BWSS Executive Director Angela Mary MacDougall in an interview with Daily Hive.”Abusive partners use this power to control the victim’s access to support, friends, family, and even employment.”
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Calls to Vancouver-based hotline services have drastically increased.
To help women reach out to emergency support services or loved ones in a time of crisis, Telus and Tom Harris cellular will donate 600 smartphones with one-year plans to the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia (EVA BC).
Founded in 1992, EVA BC works with over 300 community-based services and initiatives to provide support to abused women and children. They render counselling services, host multicultural outreach programs, and provide safe spaces like woman assault centres.
Two hundred smartphones with 3GB data will be provided to victims of abuse, while 400 phones will go to frontline anti-violence workers serving this vulnerable population.
“A phone is a critical tool for those facing violence to help them communicate with advocates and first responders,” said EVA BC Executive Director Tracy Porteous in a release. “This donation could not have come at a more crucial time.”
Rogers will also be donating mobile devices with six months of free voice and data plans to BC women’s shelters in Metro Vancouver, the Okanagan, and Vancouver Island.
“The donated phones and plans mean women can find secure housing with the assistance of the Centre’s staff and the impact of having that freedom to make choices and connect with family is empowering,” said Kate Gibson of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in statement.
Rogers is also collaborating with Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland to give out tablets with six months of free service for “Littles” and families to ensure they stay connected.