Comic Relief launches 'Tech vs Abuse' funding initiative

It hopes the £300k fund will help to develop technology that helps women and girls who suffer from domestic abuse

Comic Relief has launched a £300,000 funding initiative to help develop technologies that improve the safety of women and girls affected by domestic abuse.

The Tech vs Abuse grant initiative is based on a six-month research project commissioned by the charity in order to understand the potential opportunities, gaps and risks for technology in the context of domestic violence and abuse.

The research, which was conducted with 200 survivors of abuse and 350 sector practitioners by the open-source project Chayn, the charity SafeLives and the design agency Snook between May and November 2016, aimed to find out how technology could play a supportive role in the context of domestic violence and abuse, and to understand how survivors and practitioners perceived technology in this context.

Comic Relief said the research found "compelling insights" into the potential for technology and online communications to enable people affected by domestic abuse to access information that could help them make their own choices in order to rebuild independence.

After consulting with organisations in the domestic abuse sector, Comic Relief and the research teams settled on five design challenges that would be open to grants. These were prioritised on the basis that they would make the most difference to people affected by abuse. They are also intended to inspire innovation in the design and delivery of online and offline services for sufferers.

Funding for the initiative has come from the Tampon Tax Fund (the partnership been the UK government and Comic Relief), and the charity said it expected to make up to seven grants of between £20,000 and £50,000 from the £300,000.

The five areas are:

  • Fifteen-minute window: provide or curate key information online for women experiencing domestic abuse in a way that is easy to find, simple to navigate and quick to interact with
  • Effective real-time support services: enable women to find and access services for support (including referrals) when required, day or night, seamlessly and with minimal logistical and emotional burden
  • Safer digital footprint: Provide people affected by domestic abuse and front-line professionals the confidence and knowledge they need to use technology and stay online safely, with full control over their online data, privacy settings and social media accounts
  • Accessible legal and financial information: create engaging, accessible and digestible information on the legal process or the financial situation women find themselves in, connecting to support and advice where relevant
  • Realising it’s abuse: Use the creative opportunities of the web to raise awareness of what an abusive relationship looks like, provoking women and girls who are experiencing abuse to recognise this and get support.

Nissa Ramsay, grants digital innovation manager at Comic Relief, told Third Sector"In an online survey commissioned by Comic Relief with 209 women who had experienced abuse, almost half [47 per cent] said they were monitored by their partner and a quarter said they did not know.

"We hope that the solutions developed will ensure that those affected by domestic abuse will be able to find the information they want quickly, access the services they need easily, feel prepared to take action and remain in control of the journey ahead. We also hope that sector practitioners feel more confident supporting and advising their clients to stay online safely. Ultimately, we hope that women and girls experiencing domestic abuse are safe and free to lead the lives they choose."

Proposals are being accepted until 13 March 2017 and further information can be found on the Comic Relief website.

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