Laptops donation lets women’s refuge help survivors fleeing surge of domestic violence


A women’s refuge has hailed the donation of laptops and training in video-calling software that helped them cope with a 120% increase in referrals and a 100% hike in calls to its domestic violence helpline during lockdown.

Bromley & Croydon Women’s Aid (BCWA) saw a surge in domestic violence and abuse cases throughout the March and November lockdowns.

The charity has nine refuges across south London that can house up to 54 women and 100 children at any one time. In 2019, they supported more than 2,000 people across their services and that looks set to increase significantly this year.

BCWA had to cope with the increased demand at a time when staff had to work from home, but the charity lacked the resources and training to work remotely in the secure and effective way that is necessary in cases of domestic abuse.

The charity was matched with Colas Ltd, which provided six laptops, and Verizon Business, which helped train staff in how to use video-calling software while maintaining the security and confidentiality that are essential to their work.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Business Response Network has made 2,753 matches between local community groups, schools and charities and UK businesses. These connections have helped meet the urgent needs of more than 500,000 people during the crisis.

The National Business Response Network was launched in April by Business in the Community, a charity and The Prince’s Responsible Business Network with more than 560 member companies. Since its launch, it has received a total of £5 million investment, with AXA and the London Stock Exchange Group each contributing £1 million to accelerate the initiative.

Recent examples of matches made on a national scale include:

  • Tesco Mobile donated 798 mobile phones to 12 charities across the UK. Preloaded with SIMs, the phones are helping charities and community organisations to continue supporting vulnerable people throughout the pandemic.
  • LNER has donated 10,000 sandwiches each week for the past 10 weeks. These sandwiches have been used to help organisations like Fareshare and smaller community groups to support over 200 communities across the country.
  • Through the NBRN, Colas UK’s donation of £1,000 for food, £500 for cleaning products, PPE and toiletries was matched with 4 charities across the UK which are supporting vulnerable people throughout the pandemic.

Community organisations in need of help and businesses wanting to offer their support can visit The National Business Response Network online board of needs and offers at

The four areas The National Business Response Network most urgently needs support from business are food, technology, clothing, and skills support.

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, chief executive of Business in the Community, said:

“Organisations like Bromley & Croydon Women’s Aid do an amazing job supporting women and children escaping domestic violence, which has tragically surged during lockdown.

“This was a fantastic project that supplied laptops and training to the workers, allowing them to provide support as more and more survivors called on them for help.

“Communities across the UK are locked into a battle against COVID-19 this winter. BITC’s National Business Response Network has already changed half a million lives – bringing the might of businesses to our doorsteps. But we can do more.

“If your business can help, please get in touch and together we can make sure the right support at the right time gets to the right place.”