Covid and cost of living crisis put added strain on domestic violence services in Lancaster
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During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Lancaster Guardian can reveal that of the 162 people in the Lancaster area referred for safe accommodation provided by the charity Safenet, 88 were admitted.
Lancaster’s main refuge has 15 beds for general use and a further five for people with complex needs.
Safenet also provides ‘second stage’ accommodation for those moving from the refuge and a safe house for men suffering domestic abuse as well as a range of community outreach services including their healthy relationships programme educating 1,500 pupils in 14 schools across Lancaster district.
“Demand is definitely increasing but also the complexity of issues we deal with is becoming more apparent,” said Abigail Birch, Safenet’s area lead for Lancaster and Preston.
“We’re seeing more people with mental health problems and some of that is due to lockdown and the pressure it put on families and relationships. We’re still experiencing some of the fallout from the restrictive practices that took place and waiting lists to access services are getting much longer.”
The cost of living crisis is also proving a testing time for many, especially in the run up to Christmas when more pressure than ever is put on families and relationships.
Safenet works alongside many other organisations including the police, social services and Women’s Aid, which provides a Rail to Refuge service for those who want a safe haven away from their home area.
During October, Safenet is running a Harvest Month, appealing for donations including food, clothes, toiletries and everyday household goods to support residents in refuge.
For more information, call 0300 303 3581 or email [email protected]
Lancaster’s Safenet is just one of several across Lancashire able to offer immediate support to victims of domestic abuse 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Call 0300 303 3581 or email [email protected]
It also runs a live web chat service every day from 10am-noon; 2-4pm and 8-10pm. Go online at safenet.org.uk for more details.