Vodafone Foundation announces global plans for app to help those affected by domestic abuse

  • Vodafone Foundation announces international expansion of unique app to support those affected by domestic violence and abuse
  • International research commissioned by Vodafone Foundation highlights impact of domestic violence and abuse on people in the workplace
  • Inspired by Vodafone Foundation work, Vodafone Group announces policy for employees who have experienced domestic violence and abuse

Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s philanthropic arm, has announced the international expansion of Bright Sky, a free app which connects victims of domestic violence and abuse to advice and support services.

Bright Sky, created in partnership with the UK-based crisis support charity Hestia, enables users to locate their nearest support centre by searching their area, postcode or current location. A short questionnaire also helps users assess the safety of a relationship and provides information about different forms of abuse, the types of support available, steps to consider if leaving an abusive relationship, and how to help a friend affected by domestic abuse.

The app is also designed to log incidents of domestic abuse without any content being saved on the device itself. It enables users to record incidents in a secure digital journal, using a text, audio, video or photo function. Evidence collated through this function will enable police to intervene and can help secure prosecutions.

The first countries outside the UK to launch the app will be the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Romania. Vodafone Foundation will work with local partners to adapt the content and technology and to integrate it with domestic violence and abuse support infrastructure. Bright Sky has been available in the UK since April 2018 where it has been downloaded more than 10,000 times.

The international roll-out of Bright Sky builds on more than a decade’s work by Vodafone Foundation to develop mobile services to support victims of domestic violence and abuse, including the TecSOS technology which has helped more 100,000 high risk victims of domestic violence in five countries, Easy Rescue which has supported over 300,000 women in Turkey, and gender based violence hotlines in South Africa and Kenya which have connected over 300,000 women to help during crisis.

Building on Vodafone Foundation’s work with the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse in the UK, the Foundation commissioned a study by Opinium, a market research consultancy, to assess the impact of domestic violence and abuse on people’s work-life and career. The study surveyed 4,715 working women and men across nine countries (UK, Germany, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, India, Italy and Spain).

The research found:

  • 37% of respondents had experienced domestic violence and abuse in some form.
  • 67% of respondents that had experienced domestic violence and abuse said that the abuse affected their career progression.
  • 51% of respondents that had experienced domestic violence and abuse felt too ashamed to discuss their abuse at work.
  • When employees do discuss their abuse at work, 53% said that positive things happened as a consequence.
  • 33% said that an app **** that people can download to access help and support would help reduce the impact of domestic violence on the work lives of employees.

Supporting Vodafone Employees

Inspired by the work of Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone Group is announcing today its intention to implement a new HR policy specifically for victims of domestic violence and abuse in all its markets. Employees globally will now have access to support and specialist counselling, as well as up to 10 days additional paid leave.

The extra ‘safe leave’ gives employees who have faced abuse time to manage their situation, such as seeking professional help and counselling, attending police or court appointments, making arrangements to move house, and supporting their children.

Specialist training will be provided for HR managers to help them support employees experiencing domestic violence or abuse, including how they can assist them to seek help.

Alongside the research, Vodafone Foundation has worked with domestic violence and abuse expert Dr Jane Pillinger to develop a toolkit for all employers. The toolkit can be downloaded here.

Andrew Dunnett, Director, Vodafone Foundation, said:

“The result of our research shows the significant impact of domestic violence and abuse on people at work, affecting confidence, self-esteem and career progression. It also reveals how employers can help.

With more than ten years’ working in this space, we know that connectivity saves lives. By developing apps like Bright Sky with our partners, across our footprint, we want to offer an easy and direct route to connect people affected by multiple forms of abuse to essential services and information that they need.”

Dr Jane Pillinger said:

“More and more companies today are taking the initiative to provide support and paid leave for employees affected by domestic violence and abuse – this helps victims to safely stay in their jobs and to progress in their careers. The work of the Vodafone Foundation in raising the profile of the issue and inspiring Vodafone’s commitment to recognise the impact domestic violence has at work, to respond with support and up to 10 days paid leave for affected employees, and to refer to specialist support, along with training for managers, is a major step forward and sends a strong signal to employees that the company takes the issue seriously.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, said:

“The research commissioned by the Vodafone Foundation, which underlies this ground-breaking new policy for Vodafone’s employees, reinforces yet again that so much of the violence against women has been invisible, yet powerfully damaging with career-long effects. I commend Vodafone, a HeForShe Champion, on confronting this issue of our time, locating hidden barriers to reporting and creating innovative tools that answer women’s needs. When the workplace can become a safe and supportive environment for victims and survivors of domestic abuse, that is a major step forward. We hope to see other leaders adopt similar measures."

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