Families seeking refuge from domestic violence can now stay connected thanks to support from St Andrews University students.
The university’s Lumsden Club, an all female club supporting women and children’s charities, has helped Fife Women’s Aid provide internet access across its refuge accommodation.
Kate McCormack, manager at Fife Women’s Aid, said: “We are eternally grateful to everyone involved in making this substantial project a reality.
“Thanks to Fife Council, who have rapidly responded to the lockdown and the impact of this on families experiencing domestic abuse, more women and children are now in safe accommodation.
“We are also in awe of the work of the Lumsden Club, who continue to support and fundraise for us on an ongoing basis. They have increased their efforts during lockdown to fund the installation of internet in our refuges, which is an act that will truly transform the lives of families during these most daunting of times.”
Fife Council recently provided six more refuges for women fleeing domestic abuse after a surge in demand during lockdown.
Fife Women’s Aid said requests for refuge accommodation more than doubled between March and April this year, from 14 to 38.
Providing internet access means 41 women and 39 children across Fife can maintain contact with family, friends and their community online.
It also provides children in refuge much-needed access to schoolwork.
The roll-out of digital access was completed by Edinburgh-based Commsworld in less than a week.
One woman revealed that before the internet access was provided she had not been able to afford the data package on her phone while in refuge and had been unable to have video calls with family.
Another woman had been forced to use an expensive pay as you go contract to gain internet access so she could continue working from home.
Ms McCormack added: “Commsworld have also been fantastic throughout the entire process, creating a bespoke product that ensures each refuge comes kitted out with a 4G router in order to keep families connected.
“We are also grateful to the Women’s Fund for Scotland for awarding us a grant to purchase tablets for each refuge. Generous donations from a range of individuals and organisations has added to this funding to ensure we can provide this for all, including the new refuges.
“Without each of these partners, none of this would have been possible.”
A spokesperson for the Lumsden Club said: “Since lockdown began, we have scattered all over the world.
“Our hearts have remained in Fife, as we watched Fife Women’s Aid face up to the tremendous challenge of lockdown with creativity and resilience. We are extremely proud to have supported the purchase of broadband for all refuges to allow online communication, education and recreation.
“Once again, Fife Women’s Aid covers all bases and empowers women to live independently.”
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