What's Chayn doing in response to support survivors through Covid19?

More content, chatty chatbot & an online trauma support group

Hello everyone!

It’s been years since we last sent out a newsletter. It’s fair to say no one at Chayn likes doing these so it keeps dropping off our list but we’re trying to get back at it by keeping them nice and short. And infrequent. If you make it to the end of the newsletter, you’ll see a music playlist generated by what people in Chayn are listening to!

I’m Hera, the founder of Chayn. This newsletter was put together by me.

We are living in strange times and it’s a struggle for everyone but it’s particularly dangerous for some people. Being forced to stay home with an abuser for long amounts of time can be a harrowing experience. And stress of any kind can act as a trigger for violence and coercion, putting survivors at an even greater risk. *People who are being stalked can be at an increased risk because their location is fixed and they may be anxious their stalker will find out their address. People still healing from abuse or sexual trauma may not be able to go to their trauma-group or therapy right now. They might feel like their recovery will stall or that they don’t have the right coping mechanisms to work through this period of time.

Chayn is stepping up to go over and beyond our capacity to support people and this would not be possible without the generosity of strangers and our community of supporters. Our volunteers have been working around the clock. Our partners have doubled their efforts. Funders have stepped forward to offer help. We got more individual donations in two weeks that we got in 3 years. We’ve had a small cry about it in the team. It’s so nice to know we’re all in this together. Keep reading to see what we’re doing.

Updates from Chayn

  • Since the lockdowns began around the world, visits to chayn.co have increased by 3 times. This was covered by the Telegraph and Guardian/Observer recently. The UK Government is now linking to Chayn from its resource page on the UK Government’s website.

  • We are creating and publishing new courses on safety and recovery on Soul Medicine - our micro-course platform. Much thanks to Rosie, Sadaf, Lakshmi and Disha for working on this!

  • We are expanding the content on our chatbot Little Window so it can direct people to the resources most suited for them even when our team cannot respond personally. This includes incorporating content from Level Up’s (sadly no longer in operation) chatbot that mapped UK’s domestic and sexual violence sector. Our team is adding information on US, Pakistan and India, as well as these, remain top sources of traffic. Thank you Nooreen, Lakshmi, Becky and Sophie for working on this.

  • To respond to the changing circumstances, Chayn launched a 10-week long online trauma support group on Telegram to help women gain coping skills and so they know that they are not alone. This is the kind of thing women would either access through refuges, charities if they were seeking support or would never be able to if they weren't in touch with a frontline organisation. We have 74 people in the group. We've been surprised that a whole variety of survivors have joined our group from those who left abusive relationships years ago to those living with them under lockdown. It’s an ambitious project as we’re trying to recreate a physical group setting that is often run by shelters and council-backed support programmes into an online one where it is harder to build trust, maintain engagement and also ensure confidentiality. It’s a challenge we’ve accepted. Know someone who should join the group? Send them this link. Much thanks to Rebecca, Becky, Alison, Rosie and Jits for keeping this going. Much thanks to Viv at our partner Safelives too who are offering support and advice in running such groups. Here’s a cute sticker Nick created for those who have completed two weeks of the course!

  • I’ve been talking about what’s happening in on the news and some have picked up our story themselves: BBC News, BBC Asian Network, Elle, the Stylist, Telegraph, Guardian, Yahoo India, BBC 5 Live, BBC London radio, ITV, the Independent, CNET, The Times, Bustle, ITV News again and the Independent again.

  • WE WON! Over the last few months, our team has been working hard to build, test, prototype YANA and we’re so excited that Nesta and UK Department of Culture, Media & Sport awarded us a cash prize of £100k as part of the Tech to Connect Challenge where we competed with 8 other ideas. In what is utterly confusing for Rebecca and me, the most cringe-worthy video we ever made has been viewed more than 27 000 times. Here’s an article from Tris Dyson, the head of Nesta Challenges for Civil Society. It’s impossible to thank everyone involved in the project as our whole team is on it but a special shout out to Jits, Rebecca and Rosie!

  • And finally, we do almost all of this work as a volunteer community but as the amount increases, we are fundraising to get dedicated resources because it’s not possible to support everyone well like this. Thanks to the recent press, we’ve received £1700 in individual donations, £5k from a funder and £5k from footballer Danny Rose who plays for Spurs. He also recorded a video for both Safelives and ourselves to raise awareness for this. What a way to use his platform to uplift others! Much thanks to all the people who donated, the journalists who covered our story, NEON for helping build my spokesperson skills and Safelives for being such amazing collaborators. Rosie and Dama have been rockstars behind-the-scenes and we keep sending out more grant applications!

  • We’ve ramped up our content on Instagram because more and more survivors are reaching out to us there such as this video by Lakshmi summarising our new self-assertiveness course on Soul Medicine or this roundup of the trauma group by Rebecca and myself and this video by Tiffany for the Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

  • Chayn Italia is working with women’s centres and shelters in Italy to understand their needs around tech and services. We’ll report on what they find in the next addition!


  • Despite having so much happening - we’ve really struggled to communicate this. Enthusiasm for comms remains extremely low in our team so it ends up being only myself and one other volunteer.

  • Two months ago our financial prospects were very shaky and we barely had enough to cover our yearly running costs (£8000). Now we’ve got over £150k. It’s humbling. We still don’t have enough to start hiring staff because most of this money will go towards technical development of our digital services but we’re hopeful.

What we’re reading and watching

Call for help

  • Research: We’re going to be commissioning some research into (i) mapping the services available in the violence against women sector in Pakistan and India (ii) cybersecurity tips for IoT and spouseware/spyware. Know someone who would be a good fit? Let us know!

  • Web design: Know a good web design agency that is doing pro-bono work? I’ve been tinkering with the website and would like some professional help in making it even more user-friendly.

  • Comms: We are looking for social media manager volunteers. Spread the word. Apply to join the team here. Much thanks to Nooreen for managing the deluge of volunteers signing up like a boss.

  • New project — YANA: We’re looking for survivors, lawyers, NGOs, law enforcement and medical professionals in India and UK who would want to share their experiences of supporting survivors with us. If that’s you - get in touch with us on team@chayn.co!  

  • Donations: We run on volunteer goodwill & some pots of funding. You can donate to us in two ways: ✨Paypal (one-off) ✨ Github sponsors (monthly)

  • Instagram: Know someone who works there? We would love to reach a larger audience. Do connect us!

And in other news….

  • GitHub released Open Source Software in the Social Sector report and Chayn is one of the case studies they’ve chosen. If you’re interested in open source technology, I would look at Figure 4 on Page 25!

  • Searches for “domestic abuse coronavirus” have increased by 1350% in the past month.