Vodafone UK and the domestic abuse charity SafeLives have launched a new initiative to provide victims of abuse with mobile phones.
Called Lifeline, the programme involves mobile handsets preloaded with SIM cards and credit being given out by specialist domestic abuse workers to victims who might have had their phones taken away or monitored or tracked by their abusers. The handsets will enable victims to keep in touch with families and friends.
The programme is being rolled out nationally through front-line health workers in hospitals and GP surgeries after a successful pilot scheme in the south east.
In a statement, Vodafone UK said that in 2017 nearly two million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse, including 1.2 million women and 713,000 men. This latest initiative comes after the Vodafone Foundation’s recent partnership with the charity Hestia to launch Bright Sky, a mobile app that allows users to assess how safe their situation is and provides a UK-wide directory of specialist support services.
Suzanne Jacob, the chief executive of SafeLives, said it was "fantastic" to see companies such as Vodafone using technology to support victims of abuse.
"Domestic abuse can often make people feel isolated and alone; we are determined at SafeLives to find ways to use technology to overcome this," she said.
"Too often we hear about the risks and dangers rather than thinking creatively about how to use technology to support survivors – to reach out to other people with similar experiences and to find information quickly and safely. Domestic abuse is an epidemic that affects every community in the country and we need companies to step up to the challenge".