Living without a cell phone in 2017 seems almost impossible but it is a reality for some, and for women in need phones can be a lifeline.
SaskTel has partnered since June 2009 with the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services Saskatchewan (PATHS) to donate cell phones and prepaid phone cards to women experiencing intimate partner violence across the province.
It’s all made possible through the crown corporation’s Phones for a Fresh Start recycling program. The proceeds raised by collecting and selling cell phone parts are then put towards buying a basic flip phone or smartphone and prepaid cards for women who need help getting a fresh start.
PATHS director of research and communications Crystal Giesbrecht said the donated phones often serve as a symbol of independence.
“For many (women), this is the first time they’ve actually had a phone of their own or one that their partner didn’t have access to,” she said.
Of course, the phones also help the women to get their lives back on track.
“(Women) are able to apply for housing, they could apply for school, they could apply for jobs — they couldn’t do those things before when their partner was controlling their phone,” Giesbrecht said.
Along with helping women get back on their feet, the phones also help them reconnect with friends and family.
Since its inception, Phones for a Fresh Start has recycled more than 100,000 cell phones, helping SaskTel donate more than $70,000 in prepaid phone cards and 2,610 cell phones.
“We’ll take any cell phone that’s working or not. We can donate your battery, your cell phone charger — it doesn’t even need to be a SaskTel cell phone,” explained SaskTel spokesperson Greg Jacobs.
People are encouraged to drop off their old cell phones and accessories at SaskTel stores and authorized dealers across Saskatchewan during a recycling drive Oct. 17.