Vodafone's Bright Star app is part of a wider campaign of research, resources and workplace support for victims of domestic abuse

Vodafone app supports those affected by domestic abuse

Vodafone app supports those affected by domestic abuse

Vodafone is internationally expanding its free app that connects victims of domestic violence and abuse to advice and support services. This is being done by Vodafone Foundation, the company's charity that aims to use technology to make a positive difference to the world.

Providing support through technology

Bright Sky is an app that was made in collaboration with UK crisis support charity Hestia. The app allow users to find their closest support centre by searching their area, postcode or current location. A short questionnaire also supports users in assessing the safety of a relationship and gives information about various forms of abuse, the forms of support available, steps to consider if leaving an abusive relationship, and how to support a friend affected by domestic abuse.

The app also logs incidents of domestic abuse without any information being saved on the device itself. It allows users to make a record of incidents in a safe digital journal, using a text, audio, video or photo function. Evidence collected through this function will allow police to intervene and can help facilitate prosecution.

International reach is planned

The first countries outside the UK to launch the app will be the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Romania. Vodafone Foundation will collaborate 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 launch of Bright Sky is part of a decade’s work by Vodafone Foundation to create mobile services to help 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.

“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," says Andrew Dunnett, Director, Vodafone Foundation.

"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.”

Researching abuse on people in the workplace

Vodafone Foundation has also commissioned an international study to show the impact of domestic violence and abuse on people in the workplace. 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 Vodafone Foundation work, Vodafone Group announces policy for employees who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse. Employees around the world will now have access to support and specialist counselling, as well as up to 10 days additional paid leave.

This allows employees who have experienced abuse time to manage their situation, for example finding professional help and counselling, going to police or court appointments, organising moving house, and looking after their children.

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

Vodafone Foundation has also worked with domestic violence and abuse expert Dr Jane Pillinger to create a toolkit for all employers. 

“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," says Dr Jane Pillinger.

"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.”

“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," says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. 

"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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