Women experiencing domestic violence have increased access to help during the pandemic, through a recent donation of cellphones by Shaw Communications, Telus and Rogers.
According to an Aug. 13 news release, Sources Community Resources Society received five cellphones, along with voice and data plans for each.
The devices were among more than 450 donated last month to the Ending Violence Association of B.C. (EVA BC), in an effort to “support increased safety for women and individuals facing gender-based violence throughout B.C.”
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-violence service providers across B.C. are reporting they are seeing an increase in demand for help and an increase in severity of the types of violence that are being reported,” a July news release explains.
“The social distancing required during the pandemic has made it difficult for those facing violence to access services safely and confidentially.”
The UN has termed an increase in domestic violence rates seen in certain regions across Canada in recent months as a “shadow pandemic,” the release adds.
Sources is part of EVA BC’s network of frontline anti-violence service providers. The cellphone donation “created both relief and appreciation,” the Aug. 13 release states.
“With so many women locked into violent situations, new methods of connecting were clearly needed and, like many other workplaces, technology became an obvious choice.”
Sources trauma counselling manager Deirdre Goudriaan said the devices – described as a “lifeline” for survivors – are being used to help women access counselling on the phone or via virtual sessions, and are available for the duration of a client’s counselling sessions.
“The value of these phones is tremendous,” Goudriaan said.