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Coronavirus: Solace Women’s Aid secures 70 new units where women and children fleeing domestic abuse can take refuge

PUBLISHED: 11:55 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:22 15 May 2020

Domestic abuse has increased since lockdown with people more confined to their homes. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Domestic abuse has increased since lockdown with people more confined to their homes. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Solace Women’s Aid has secured 70 new units where woman and children fleeing domestic abuse during the coronavirus crisis can take refuge.

The domestic abuse charity is leading the Covid-19 Crisis Project, which is supported by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Julia Hans Rausing Trust.

Unlike some other facilities, the accommodation and support services on offer can also be accessed by women and kids with “no recourse to public funds” (NRPF) due to their immigration status. Southall Black Sisters are coordinating the NRPF support.

Fiona Dwyer, Solace, CEO told the Gazette: “We’re very excited about it as a project and what’s really good is we can also support women who have no recourse to public funds because they’re obviously in even more challenging and precarious situations than women who can access services due to insecure immigration and so on.

“The cases that have been coming through Solace during lockdown have been incredibly complex cases of woman who have been able to flee, an example is a woman who fled to a friend’s house and then was sexually assaulted by her friend’s husband and had to flee again.”

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Fiona said there was a 49% spike in calls to Solace’s crisis helpline just before the lockdown was declared on March 23, suggesting women were struggling to call for help while stuck at home with their abusers.

She added: “Since Sunday people have been starting to get out and about more and we have seen a big increase already in our advice line calls. So it’s fantastic to have this accommodation because it will help us prepare more for the post lockdown period when we know we’ll have a massive spike in demand.”

The project will provide extra capacity to help women safely flee at a time when refuge, and other crisis accommodation, are overstretched and unable to meet the increased demand for spaces. There will be vital resettlement support provided to women to move onto appropriate accommodation at the end of the Covid-19 crisis.

The project is open to any woman in London and referrals can be taken from organisations or individuals.

The referrals line is open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm.

Call: 0808 801 0650 or email: covidcrisisproject@solacewomensaid.org


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