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Helping victims of domestic violence in Trafford during lockdown restrictions

24 June, 2020

Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, there has been a surge in calls to domestic violence helplines. The measures brought in to keep people safe from the spread of the virus were inconsequently increasing the risk of domestic violence.

The charity Refuge has reported a 25% increase in women seeking help, as they became trapped inside their home with their abusers. Housing Options Service Trafford (HOST) who provides a tenancy support service for Trafford Council, have also seen an increase in women needing their support.  

Alison Dann, HOST’s principal manager said: “The victim and their children are at extra risk, as not only are they in the same house as the perpetrator 24/7, but they cannot access the additional support as easily as before, whether this is through support agencies or support through family and friends. The isolation they would have felt before lockdown has only intensified.

“One of our greatest concerns during lockdown has been making sure domestic abuse victims and their children were still able to have the same support as they did before the restrictions came into place. We are contactable by email or by phone and treat these customers as a priority.”

As the possibility of a lockdown became reality, a taskforce was created to make sure all the agencies in Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council had the capabilities to respond to an expected rise in domestic violence calls.  

Alison said “All the relevant agencies hold fortnightly meetings over Microsoft Teams, which was a new experience for most of us.”

Following on from this, a social media campaign was launched via Twitter and Facebook which listed all the support available and how to contact them. This also included engaging big-name companies to have a strategy in place to notify authorities when they hear a codeword used by a victim of domestic abuse.

A tenancy support officer/housing options officer at HOST said: “Domestic abuse isn't always physical. I was contacted just before the lockdown by a lady who wanted to leave her husband due to years of mental abuse. I gave her advice and as the lockdown was put in place, she found the courage to take herself and children to her mother’s home in Birmingham.  

“Since then I have been able to advise her further over the phone. She felt empowered to make her own choices, around employment, benefits and housing. This is something she hasn’t been able to do for years. I may not have been able to see her face to face, but she still got the same amount of support she would have in normal circumstances.”

Alison said “Early on in lockdown, the Government stated that women and children fleeing violence are exempt from the coronavirus restrictions. Many escape routes, like the school run aren’t there anymore. As restrictions start to lift, we’re hoping that it gives women and their families more opportunities to leave their homes and their abusers. Until then, we’re here for them.”

If you live in Trafford and need help from HOST, please call them on 0161 912 2230 or email HOST@salixhomes.co.uk.

The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline is 0808 2000 247. If you are a woman in immediate danger please call 999.