Comic Relief – Tech vs Abuse – Deadline Midday 13th March 2017


About the initiative

For women in abusive relationships, the digital world can be a place which is as highly controlled and monitored by perpetrators, as the physical world. Many women and girls in abusive relationships are unable to use technology safely or proactively to access support. And many services struggle to harness the opportunities offered by technology to increase their reach, and make information and assistance accessible outside work hours and to women who may only have short pockets of time to ask for help.

The Tech vs Abuse grant initiative is based on a six month research project commissioned by Comic Relief in order to understand the potential opportunities, gaps and risks for technology in the context of domestic violence and abuse (for more information visit This was led by Chayn, SafeLives and Snook, who undertook research with over 200 survivors and 350 sector practitioners. They found compelling insights into the potential for technology and online communications to enable people affected by domestic abuse to access the information they need to make their own choices and rebuild their independence safely and sustainably.

On the basis of this research, Comic Relief, together with the research team and in consultation with a number of organisations in the domestic abuse sector, have created five key design challenges. These have been prioritised on the basis that if addressed effectively and safely, these solutions would make the most immediate difference to people affected by domestic abuse. The design challenges are intended to inspire innovation in the design and delivery of services for people affected by domestic abuse, both online and offline.

The five key design challenges are:

Fifteen minute window

Provide or curate key information online for women experiencing domestic abuse in a way which is easy to find, simple to navigate and quick to interact with.

Effective real-time support services

Enable women to find and access services for support (including referrals) when required, day or night, seamlessly and with minimal logistical and emotional burden.

Safer digital-footprint

Provide people affected by domestic abuse and frontline professionals the confidence and knowledge they need to use technology and stay online safely, with full control over their online data, privacy settings and social media accounts.

Accessible legal and financial information

Create engaging, accessible and digestible information on the legal process or the financial situation women find themselves in, connecting to support and advice where relevant.

Realising it’s abuse

Use the creative opportunities of the web to raise awareness of what an abusive relationship looks like, provoking women and girls experiencing abuse to recognise this and get support.

The research also generated a number of supplementary resources to help address these challenges.

The full research report can be found here.

The full report on the design challenges can be found here.

Funding available

In order to support the sector to innovate and start addressing these challenges, we are investing funding through the Tampon Tax Fund, a partnership between HM Government and Comic Relief. We anticipate making up to seven grants from a total fund of up to £300,000:

  • Grants can be for amounts between £20,000 and £50,000 over a period of one year from August 2017 to August 2018.
  • Applicants should focus on one of the design challenges and refer to the research and rationale relating to this.
  • We will fund digital solutions at any stage of development (from idea stage to those with existing solutions) and are looking for those projects and partnerships with potential to address the design challenges. We are happy to support projects without a digital partner in place at the point of applying.
  • We welcome proposals from the women and girls sector and beyond, including unusual collaborations, such as those working together to develop new solutions alongside design or digital agencies.
  • The grant will include additional support from social-tech development experts, which will include a start-up workshop over two days at the start of the grant, connections to tech experts, on-going mentoring and two peer learning days in November 2017 and April 2018.
  • Applicants should budget for three trips to London to attend these sessions.
  • The first three months the grant will also be dedicated research, ideas development, user testing or piloting, before development and delivery work begins in full over the remaining nine months to develop a solution.

We will support new technology development as well as low-technology solutions and any training and resource publications required to meet these design challenges. However, we are particularly supportive of innovative approaches ensuring these solutions have high immediate impact or a lasting legacy beyond the life of the funding. We are also interested in solutions with the potential to scale up, whether this is gained through buy-in across domestic abuse support agencies, by open sourcing the solution or ensuring shared learning and the possibility of replication. We will assess projects based on their ability to work towards the set of design principles set out in the design challenges report, as well as giving further support on these as part of the grant.


Organisations or partnerships applying to this initiative must meet Comic Relief’s general eligibility requirements. In addition:

  • Grants are available for work throughout the UK.
  • There is no restriction on the annual income of the organisation or partnership applying for a grant.
  • There is no restriction on applying for this grant if you have another grant with Comic Relief.
  • We will not fund pure research for the duration of the grant, however, we will support research as part of the grant that results in the creation of a tangible solutions.

Please review our grant making policies and FAQs for details of our eligibility criteria for all organisations applying to Comic Relief for funding (see links below).

Key dates and process

We will be open for proposals from 12th January 2017 to midday on 13th March 2017.

If you would like to discuss your application in more detail, we are also holding a number of advice days on February 13th, 14th and 15th. You can sign up for a 30 minute call or online discussion here.

Once we receive your proposal, we will initially check whether your organisation and proposal are eligible for funding under this initiative and then shortlist the strongest proposals to go through for a full assessment. We will aim to notify all applicants of our decisions at this stage by the end of March. If your proposal is unsuccessful at this stage, we will be unable to provide any additional feedback due to our limited resources. Assessments of the shortlisted proposals will take place during April and May 2017 and final decisions will be made by our Grants Committee and Trustees. We aim to inform all applicants of the final decision by the end of July 2017. If your proposal is unsuccessful at this stage we will offer further feedback by phone.

Please go to the funders website for more information and to apply by clicking here.


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