Bromley and Croydon Women's Aid (BCWA) centre thanked supporters after experiencing a surge in demand for their services during the coronavirus lockdown.

The women's refuge said recent donations including a number of laptops had helped them cope with a massive surge in demand for their services supporting women living with or escaping domestic violence.

BCWA said they had seen a staggering 120 per cent increase in referrals and a 100 per cent hike in calls to its domestic violence helpline during lockdown.

The charity, who have nine refuges across London, were matched thanks to the National Business Response Network with Colas Ltd, which donated 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 during the pandemic.

"As soon as the first lockdown started we saw demand for our services shoot up. There was a 120 per cent increase in referrals and calls to our helpline doubled," CEO Constanze Sen said.

“Our refuges would usually have support workers, but all our staff suddenly had to work remotely and we didn’t have the technology to run all our services including support groups and one to one support.

"We needed extra laptops so support workers could keep in touch with the women they were helping.

“Without these laptops and training, our jobs would have been much harder, so we would like to thank Colas and Verizon for their generous support," she added.

"It’s good to know that businesses are helping community groups like us, and we would like to thank The National Business Response Network for helping make it possible."

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, chief executive of Business in the Community, who set up the National Business Response Network, meanwhile described the work BCWA do as "amazing":

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

"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."

To contact BCWA, click here