X Factor star Jahmene Douglas visits Islington refugee centre
- Credit: Archant
X Factor star and domestic violence survivor Jahmene Douglas has called on the government to “wake up” after he came to Islington to visit one of the best refuges in the country – and discovered that abused women were still having to share bathrooms and kitchens as services across the charity are scaled back.
Jahmene, who as a child watched his father torture his mother with a blowtorch, and who was strangled and beaten, said women and children fleeing abusive husbands and fathers deserved better than having to live in hostel-like accommodation with limited staff.
The 21-year-old, whose older brother Daniel committed suicide, is now youth ambassador for the domestic violence charity Women’s Aid.
He called on the government to pour more money into women’s refuges rather than cutting funding.
Jahmene, a former supermarket shelf-stacker, is currently on tour ahead of releasing his first album.
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He said: “I have experienced quite severe domestic violence so I know from the inside what needs to be changed .
“The government needs to wake up and see the reality of people’s lives.”
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Jahmene was visiting a refuge run by Solace Women’s Aid, which is based in Islington.
He said: “I think they [the staff] are doing the best with what they have but they need much more.
“Some of these women are coming from large family homes.
‘‘They have to leave all that to come to a refuge so the refuge needs to feel comfortable, safe and have dedicated support for both women and children.
“I was impressed with the support that the women are getting from the staff and I was impressed with how strong the women are but you don’t want them to be held back any more. It’s hard to live there and it’s a time of crisis.”
Police in Islington handled some 4,000 domestic violence cases in 2011-12, costing the borough an estimated £25.7million.
But in 2011, Solace Women’s Aid’s lost about half its funding, forcing the charity to make difficult decisions, such as reducing some of its services.
Jahmene said: “The government should be investing more in refuges.”
Mary Mason, chief executive of Solace Women’s Aid, welcomed Jahmene’s visit.
She said: “The women feel really heartened that a person of his stature is standing up for them.”
“Obviously we make the refuges as homely and nice as we possibly can but the resources are just not being handed out by government.
“The hostel he visited is very nice, clean and tidy but there is one family in each room and there are shared kitchens and bathrooms – and that’s true of many services everywhere.
“But it does have a playroom for the children, a lounge for the women and a garden.
“I absolutely agree with his call to government to wake up.”
To contact the Solace Women’s Aid Advice Service, call 0808 802 5565.