Do you have an old phone you’re no longer using and don’t know what to do with?
The Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society (COEFS) will gladly take them.
COEFS put out a call on social media for used cellphones that they can then reuse and distribute among their clients as pandemic restrictions keep people at home and in some cases, in unsafe homes.
“Throughout this past year of COVID, and up until now, we’ve just continued to see increased risks for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual violence,” COEFS community engagement and fundraising coordinator Mandy Glinsbockel said.
“When things were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, one of the immediate needs we saw was getting phones and technology into the hands of community members at risk who were isolated in unsafe homes.”
She said this was possible thanks to community support and some grant funding but with pandemic restrictions dragging on and with more and more people reaching out for help, COEFS is trying to keep up.
“Clients are coming to us saying they have abusive partners who have destroyed their cellphones and eliminated that lifeline for them, which is such a critical thing for them to be able to access,” she said.
“We know many people upgrade their phones and don’t really end up using their old units, so we’re hoping people in the community can donate their used cellphones so we can get them into the hands of people in need.”
Glinsbockel said COEFS will accept any phones from any provider, as long as it still works and clients can use text and call features on it.
She added that COEFS’ callout for phones also comes at a time when the non-profit is seeing an all-time high of people in distress seeking help.
“What we initially saw wasn’t necessarily an increase in the number of clients, but an increase in the severity of cases and the severity of violence people are experiencing at home.”
“We did see an increase in clients this past July. We had our highest number of people reaching out to us, the highest we have seen in the history of the organization,” she said.
Typical monthly numbers see about 40 to 50 people reaching out for help, but Glinsbockel said they’re now seeing about 70 clients a month seeking help, with that number staying consistent into 2021.
She said many cases go unreported and not many are able to reach out for help, which is why COEFS thinks there are more women living in unsafe homes than they are seeing.
If you are interested in donating to COEFS, you can send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 250-763-4613 to coordinate a time and a place to drop off the phones.