Domestic abuse organisations welcome ‘life-saving’ Government funding for charities

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With newly-announced funding being given to charities to help throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, those working with domestic abuse victims explain why this is so vital.

On Wednesday (8th April), Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £750m of funding for UK charities, with £360m going directly to charities, “providing essential services supporting vulnerable people.”

This announcement comes after The Guardian revealed many countries around the world, including the UK, have identified a rise in cases of domestic abuse – nationwide lockdowns have forced many victims to self-isolate with abusive partners.

This week, UK domestic abuse charity Refuge revealed a 25% increase in calls to their National Domestic Abuse Helpline since lockdown measures began.

In the West Midlands, Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid (BSWA), which provides support services to women and children affected by domestic abuse, has also been receiving an increased number of calls.

BSWA have heard women telling stories of how lockdown has impacted them. Credit BSWA

Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed last week that exceptions will be made for victims leaving their homes during lockdown – but it seems that isn’t enough.

Anna Fawcett, a representative of BSWA, said: “We have had calls from women whose perpetrators have prevented them from leaving the house because of the lockdown.”

Anna said BSWA are “delighted” to hear the Government are pledging their support.

“The funding will take the pressure off charities like ours, at a time when our services are needed more than ever,” she explained.

Midlands Voice also spoke to Sammie Billingham, from Quarry Bank in Birmingham, who is a survivor of domestic abuse.

After suffering both physical abuse and coercive control, she left the relationship in 2006 with her young daughter.

Sammie draws on her experiences as a survivor to help others. Credit Sammie Billingham

“I know what it’s like to live in an isolated environment with an abuser, which will be a reality for many victims during this lockdown,” Sammie said.

“There are good days, but there will also be bad days, where you are made to feel your weakest,” she recalled. “I expect that people in isolation with abusers will see a lot more of the bad days.”

“Domestic abuse support services are a lifeline to so many – this funding is vitally important.”

Sammie Billingham

In 2009 Sammie set up SODA, a support group for ‘Survivors ODomestic Abuse’, and campaigns for more awareness.

Sammie appeared on BBC Breakfast to share her message

She hopes the funding will increase the availability of beds in safehouses and refuges.

“It’s vital that when a person finds the strength to leave, they receive the support they need so they don’t go back,” Sammie said. “Used in this way, the funding will save lives.”

Visit https://www.refuge.org.uk for information and support. If you’re in danger, call the National Domestic Abuse hotline: 0808 2000 247, or 999.

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