Government lobbied to re-home domestic abuse victims in hotels during pandemic

Domestic abuse helplines have seen a huge increase in calls since lockdown began

We are living in a global pandemic which itself has caused a health, economic and social crisis and seen many people go through severe pain and loss, financial difficulty and a range of other issues that may ordinarily be higher up on the news agenda.

One serious issue that has been exacerbated by this crisis is domestic abuse.

While everyone is having to stay indoors, in the household they were living in when the lockdown began three weeks ago, victims of domestic violence are now trapped inside with their abusers.

Not only this but they are isolated from outside support and may not feel like they have anyone to reach out to.

Domestic abuse in households may have started up since the lockdown began or be continuing from before, but however it started, call logs from helplines show that rates of domestic violence are increasing by the day, reports The Guardian.

The National Domestic Abuse helpline, for instance, has seen a 25% increase in calls since the start of the lockdown.

The government has announced funding to try to tackle this increasing problem.

Domestic abuse services will get an extra £2m after Priti Patel launched her ‘You Are Not Alone’ campaign, according to the BBC.

Yet organisers of a new petition argue these plans don’t go anywhere near far enough to protect survivors.

Martha and Charlotte have launched a petition to government asking them to ‘Give hotel rooms to domestic abuse survivors and their children during the coronavirus crisis’.

It’s a move that France has already made. Now that hotels are already on board with the idea, Martha and Charlotte say all that’s left is public support for their petition.

Writing about why this is important, the petition states: “Even before Coronavirus, there weren’t enough bed places for women to leave – with three out of five women referred to refuges being turned away for lack of space. Now, rates of domestic abuse are increasing, and we’re in a national crisis.

“Women’s Aid has seen a 41% increase in survivors trying to access support online. But for many women, digital support won’t be enough. Many desperately need accommodation away from abuse.

“But there could be a place for these women to go. While many survivors and their children need to access safe accommodation, hotel rooms and across the country are empty due to cancelled events and travel plans.

“The French government has already committed to housing those fleeing domestic abuse in hotels. In the UK, Southall Black Sisters have successfully lobbied hotels to agree to house those escaping domestic abuse. The hotels are not looking to make a profit on this – only cover their costs

“We need a firm commitment from the Government that they will pay hotels across the county so that, no survivor is trapped with their abuser.”

The petition already has over 50,000 signatures.

You can sign the petition here.

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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