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Extra phone chargers to be installed on public transport ‘essential’ to vulnerable women, says MLA Cara Hunter

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SDLP MLA Cara Hunter. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

SDLP MLA Cara Hunter. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

SDLP MLA Cara Hunter. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Phone charging points on public transport are “essential” to those whose personal safety is at risk, SDLP MLA Cara Hunter has said.

Nearly 200 more phone charging facilities are to be installed on public transport vehicles and within hubs across Northern Ireland by the end of this March, the Infrastructure Minister has confirmed.

Ms Hunter said she believed being able to charge a phone could help vulnerable people or those fleeing abusive situations.

She initially raised concerns with Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon following a number of recent attacks on women and young girls.

“For someone who has been split up from their friends on a night out, or found themselves in a potentially risky situation like receiving unwanted attention, being able to get in contact with someone who can help to arrange a lift or a point to meet up can be the difference between getting home safely or not,” said the East Derry MLA.

“People who are fleeing abusive living situations or relationships often have items like mobile phones withheld from them, which makes it all the more difficult to escape from their abusers.

"Having phones available to access help could be key in convincing someone to finally make the break or tell someone what is happening and seek assistance.

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“This build’s on Minister Mallon’s previous work in providing free public transport to all those fleeing domestic abuse.”

In July 2020, Ms Mallon and Justice Minister Naomi Long announced free public transport for those fleeing domestic abuse, to be available where refuge or emergency accommodation has been arranged through the 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or Women’s Aid.

The ministers said victims of domestic abuse should not have to worry about how they can find shelter when fleeing a violent situation.

"It is important that the general public know that help is available at transport hubs or from our staff should they find themselves in a crisis situation,” Ms Hunter continued.

"When women and girls in our society still face daily threats, it’s important we do everything we can to mitigate against these risks and put measures in place to keep them safe.”

Ms Mallon confirmed that charging facilities are available at the vast majority of Translink bus and train stations and also said there are plans to increase USB chargers on Translink buses from 387 buses to 555 within the next two months. 

She also noted that all future bus purchases would include USB ports as standard, adding that around 50% of Translink trains are already equipped with charging points. She said Translink staff have mobile telephones to offer to passengers in case of an emergency.


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