LETTER: Funding to ‘support most vulnerable in society’ during lockdown comes amid spike in domestic violence cases
PUBLISHED: 12:01 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:01 04 May 2020
Last week, the government announced a package of more than £76 million in new funding “to support the most vulnerable in society”: survivors and victims of domestic and sexual abuse, vulnerable children, and victims of modern slavery.
The funding comes in the wake of an unprecedented surge in reports of domestic violence, coercive control and verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse since lockdown started.
The lockdown and social distancing measures make it harder for victims to turn to friends, family, and co-workers.
Being trapped in close proximity to an abuser is a horrific situation for anyone, but it can be particularly harmful for migrants and asylum seekers who often have no understanding of how to seek help, no safe place to live, no right to work, and no access to social support.
Many also fear reporting domestic abuse to the police in case they are referred to immigration enforcement and end up in detention. Even those victims who do overcome these barriers are not guaranteed help.
Women’s Aid estimates that 4 in 5 migrant women, with or without children, are being turned away from refuges as they lack access to government support and funds that would supply them with a place of safety.
Imagine having to return to your abuser, or become homeless, if this happened to you.
Amnesty International is calling on the government to ensure that the new funding package extends to every victim of domestic and sexual abuse, regardless of their nationality and immigration status. Please help the Amnesty campaign by signing their petition here.
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If you are a victim of domestic and sexual abuse, there are routes to seek help:
If you are at serious risk, call 999. If you cannot speak, as you fear being overheard, press 55. This will transfer the call to the police as an emergency
The free-to-call National Domestic Violence Helpline is open 24/7/365 on 0808 2000 247 or online here. There is also a Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors, on 0808 801 0327
Go to the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership on which has video advice available in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian and British Sign Language
Refuges remain open and no-one seeking their help will be criticised for failing to maintain social-distancing restrictions, and no-one should be turned away. For the nearest refuge call Cambridge Women’s Aid (if you live in Cambridge city, South or East Cambridgeshire) on 01223 36121; or Refuge (if you live in Fenland, Huntingdonshire, or Peterborough) on 07787 255821
Some supermarkets and pharmacies (including Boots the Chemist) are offering safe spaces where you can request help
If you suspect that a neighbour is at risk of domestic violence, please don’t hesitate to call 999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
BARBARA GRAFTON, Amnesty International Ely City Group
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