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There With You: Domestic abuse charity launches emergency Covid-19 appeal

PUBLISHED: 11:50 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 30 March 2020

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/ PA

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/ PA

PA Wire/PA Images

A leading domestic abuse charity has launched an emergency appeal so it can sustain vital services during the coronavirus lockdown.

Solace Women’s Aid in Brewery Road needs to raise £150,000 to help women who are trapped in their homes with an abusive partner during enforced isolation due to the pandemic.

Calls to the charity’s helpline were showing a week-on-week increase in February and early March, and hit an “all-time high” with 789 calls between February 25 and March 10.

But this plummeted to 461 calls between March 10 and March 24 – a period when the government was taking measures to enforce self-isolation and social distancing.

Solace’s chief exec Fiona Dwyer said: “We are increasingly worried that women are not able to reach out for help due to being monitored 24/7 by their abuser. We are really concerned about women living in isolation with their abusers and the challenges they face keeping themselves and their children safe. We anticipate that there will be an enormous spike in demand after the lockdown period has ended. Right now, we are at full stretch ensuring that our services can continue to meet the needs of the most vulnerable - keeping our refuges and supported accommodation open to referrals and supporting women to be safe through our community services.”

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Ava, a young mother from north London, fled her abuser shortly before the lockdown was enforced last week. She has no money and is now homeless and sleeping on a friend’s sofa with her baby. Solace is offering her support but its refuges are full.

Ava said: “I have fled from my husband and staying with friends now. We were claiming benefits on the joint account and after I fled, he took out the whole month’s benefits from the account and left me and my nine month baby boy with nothing. I really don’t know how to survive until next month. My child is unwell, and I don’t have any money to buy medication. I have also been warned that my GP is not seeing anyone and I don’t know what to do.

“I heard that my local foodbank is closing, which is vital for me to survive and provide for my children. I really don’t know what to do. Please help me.”

Solace supported more than 22,000 women, children and some men last year, with 15,000 women using its crisis services.

Click here to donate to the appeal.

For a directory of agencies helping people in Islington during the pandemic, click here.

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