Rogers Communications today announced partnerships with women’s shelters across British Columbia, including in Metro Vancouver, the Okanagan and on Vancouver Island, to provide connectivity to support them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of this partnership, the company is providing complimentary devices along with six months of free voice and data plans to these shelters, including the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.
“With these devices, women are able to call family and friends, which for some might seem like an everyday event, but for marginalized women seeking refuge from pervasive violence, frequent abuse, and harsh conditions, having access to a phone is key for their sense of safety and belonging,” said Kate Gibson, acting executive director, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, in a press release. “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.”
Connectivity is a critical digital lifeline for women in crisis as domestic abuse rates increase during COVID-19. The global crisis has revealed urgent needs among Canada’s at-risk communities, including women and children who may be facing the reality of being at home with an abusive family member, Rogers said in a statement.
“The isolation required to respond to COVID-19 has made it difficult to communicate, access services or ask for help without a cellphone,” said Mitzi Dean, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for gender equity. “We must do everything we can to care for women and children in crisis and getting devices into the hands of vulnerable women during the pandemic will help save lives.”
Women living in abusive homes, or those who know someone who is living in an abusive home, can contact their local shelter’s 24/7 crisis line for advice and support. The nearest local shelter and its crisis line can be found on www.sheltersafe.ca.
In addition, Rogers is also partnering with Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland, an organization aimed at enabling mentoring relationships to ignite the power and potential of young people, to provide donations of devices and tablets with six months of free service to ensure the families and “Littles” who rely on this critical connection get the digital tools and service they need.