United Kingdom

Twitter is praised by domestic violence campaigners after partnering with Women's Aid

Women's Aid has been praised for their new partnership with Twitter to launch a new anti-domestic violence search tool to help users in abusive relationship access help, after a surge of cases during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Social media users on the site who search for a phrase related to domestic violence will be shown links to the Women's Aid website, provided with details of different resources and shown a screen that reads: 'You are not alone. If you are experiencing domestic abuse or you're worried about someone else, our partner Women's Aid can help'. 

Teresa Parker, Head of Media Relations and Communications at Women's Aid, said she hoped the tool would help people access the charity's life-saving services, explaining: 'We hope that it means more women are able to see that help and support is out there if they are experiencing abuse, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.'

The feature has been hailed by users on the website, with one commenting: 'Well done Twitter and Women's Aid', while another wrote, 'Hopefully people can find help with this tool'.

Women's Aid has been praised for their new partnership with Twitter which will direct people who search for terms related to domestic abuse to different resources that could provide help and support 

The feature is an expansion of Twitter's #ThereIsHelp initiative, which provides resources to vulnerable people and encourages them to reach out and get support when they need it.  

Women's Aid digital support services include the Women's Aid Live Chat where survivors can speak with a Women's Aid expert support worker, as well as an email service and an online Survivor's Handbook which is full of practical advice.

They also offer a Survivors' Forum where survivors can support each other in a safe, online space. 

After Women's Aid and Twitter shared the news, many heaped on praise for the scheme. 

The Women's Aid tool comes after reports that domestic violence had increased during the coronavirus lockdown  (stock image) 

'Fantastic news,' one Twitter user wrote, while another commented: 'What a great idea!'

Katy Minshall, Head of Public Policy and Philanthropy at Twitter UK told FEMAIL: 'Twitter is pleased to collaborate with Women's Aid and launch this product feature dedicated to supporting those experiencing domestic abuse. 

'Our top priority is ensuring people feel safe on our service. With the #ThereIsHelp prompt, we want people who are vulnerable, or know of others that are, to reach out for support with Women's Aid.'

Teresa added: 'Women's Aid is proud to team up with Twitter to create a tool that makes it easy to find our life saving-services.  

Many social media users heaped praise on the new tool, with some calling the feature 'fantastic' and others adding it was 'excellent stuff' 

'Over two-thirds of survivors responding to a Women's Aid survey in April 2020 told us that domestic abuse is escalating under lockdown and 72 per cent said that their abuser has more control over their life since Covid-19. 

'We have seen a surge of women accessing our Live Chat service, and the Survivors' Forum - our online peer-to-peer community - has never been busier. 

'We want women to know that help is out there, and that they are not alone. This new tool will help us reach women beyond our networks who may not know what support is available.'

Campaigners said from the moment lockdown measures were announced in March that cases of domestic violence were likely to rise as victims found themselves trapped at home with their abusers, often in stressful situations.  

What to do if you can't speak on the phone in an emergency 

Calling from a mobile 

It is always best to speak to the operator if you can, even by whispering. You may also be asked to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to questions. 

If making a sound would put you or someone else in danger and the operator cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, your call will be transferred to the Silent Solution system. 

You will hear an automated police message, which lasts for 20 seconds and begins with ‘you are through to the police’.  

It will ask you to press 55 to be put through to police call management. The BT operator will remain on the line and listen. If you press 55, they will be notified and transfer the call to the police. If you don’t press 55, the call will be terminated. 

Pressing 55 does not allow police to track your location but will be transferred to your local police force. If you are not able to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so they can assess your call and arrange help if needed. 

Calling from a landline

Because it’s less likely that 999 calls are made by accident from landlines, the Silent Solution system is not used. 

If, when an emergency call on a landline is received: there is no request for an emergency, the caller does not answer questions, only background noise can be heard and BT operators cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, then you will be connected to a police call handler as doubt exists. 

If you replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick it up again. If you pick up again during this 45 seconds and the BT operator is concerned for your safety, the call will be connected to police. 

When 999 calls are made from landlines, information about where you’re calling from should be automatically available to the call handlers to help provide a response.

Source: policeconduct.gov.uk  

In April the Metropolitan Police said its officers were arresting an average of 100 people a day for domestic violence offences, with charges and cautions up 24 per cent from the previous year.

And in May, the government unveiled a £76million package for domestic violence victims as they admitted lockdown is making it harder for people to seek help. 

Meanwhile it was also reported that the number of women killed every week nationally by domestic abuse has risen from two to three since lockdown began, with 24 domestic abuse-related homicides in the first seven weeks alone.

As cases of domestic violence have surged in lockdown, Morrisons and Tesco have both launches in store services to help victims. 

A picture of a bill from the supermarket was shared on Twitter by journalist Scott Bryan, and was lauded as incredibly helpful and brave by social media users.

A message at the bottom of their receipts reads: 'Help is available if you're experiencing domestic abuse. Call the National Domestic Abuse helpline on 0808 200 247. Download the Brightsky App.'

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