July 19, 2024

Construction firm Stonewood donates surplus phones to help charity protect domestic abuse victims

SURPLUS mobile phones firm will provide a vital lifeline for victims fleeing abusive relationships after they were donated to Splitz Support Service by construction company Stonewood Group.

The award-winning Castle Combe group, which builds new homes and carries out high end renovations on older and listed buildings in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, was left with a batch of older iPhones that were unable to connect to its internal network after an Apple upgrade.

Office Manager Ju Cuss said she was frustrated because the phones were still in perfect working order. “It was annoying from an environmental point of view that we had these phones that we couldn’t use but a colleague saw that Splitz had put out an appeal on LinkedIn for old phones so we were really happy to be able to donate them,” she said.

The charity is based in Trowbridge but works with adults and children who have suffered domestic abuse and sexual violence all over Wiltshire and is part of a network covering Swindon, Bristol, Gloucestershire and Devon.

Director of Services Emily Denne said the 16 phones are vital for victims who have fled abusive partners, often with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.

“Mobile phones are an absolutely key part of safety planning: by providing a phone, we enable our service users to both have contact with us and additionally, to call for help in an emergency,” she said.

“On occasion, perpetrators of domestic abuse have used smart phones to track their victims, as part of controlling and abusive behaviour. A new phone therefore ensures a victim can have safe contact with us and helps to give them back their independence. I’d like to thank the Stonewood Group for donating mobile phones to help the people we support.”

Jessica Gay, the charity’s head of fundraising, visited Stonewood’s office to tell staff about its support for victims by providing advice for anyone in an abusive relationship, helping them find a safe place to stay and supporting them as they rebuild their lives.

She said: “Over the pandemic our referrals increased by a huge amount and we are supporting thousands of individuals every year. We have been doing a big push on trying to get mobile phones so it was absolutely brilliant that Stonewood came forward.”

Between April 2021 and March 22022 the charity received 3,795 new referrals from people needing support across the Swindon and Wiltshire services, with the average number of referrals currently at 89 per week.

“We’d like to say a big thank you to Stonewood for their support,” said Jessica.

“As Emily highlights, a mobile phone is an essential item for everyone we support who is escaping domestic abuse or sexual violence. What many can take for granted, literally can provide a lifeline for another. Having Stonewood’s support is helping us change and save lives.”

Said Ju: “It was really interesting to hear about Splitz and the work it does. It is shocking that it is needed as much as it is so we are really pleased to have been able to help and I’m sure we’ll do more in the future now we’ve made contact.”

Find out more about Splitz Support Service, the help it offers and how to donate to it, at splitz.org. It can be contacted from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday on 01225 775276. Out of hours contact can also be made with the Wiltshire dedicated domestic abuse helpline on 01225 712 880.