Majority of women seeking refuge turned away, survey shows
Around two-thirds of applications for refuge space by women fleeing domestic abuse are declined, according to the annual Domestic Abuse Report by Women’s Aid.
In total, 64.1% of 16,214 referrals recorded by the survey were turned down last year, with lack of space being given as the reason in a fifth of those cases, up from 17.1% in the previous audit.
Furthermore, high demand was cited by 18.9% of the report’s respondents as the most challenging issue their service had faced in the previous financial year. “They described the difficulty of trying to cope with high numbers of referrals in a time of reduced financial resources … the challenge of ‘demand versus capacity’,” the audit’s authors wrote.
High demand leads to:
• overloaded staff, dealing with a high level of referrals without enough staff;
• domestic abuse survivors being turned away from refuges, and referred to community-based services, due to lack of space; and
• long waits for some community-based services, with one respondent describing the three-month waiting list as challenging.
Government spending on domestic abuse services falls short of the £393m Women’s Aid calculates the sector needs each year to run specialist services across England.
“Compared to the government’s own estimated £66bn cost to society of domestic abuse, £393m is excellent value for the savings that will be made, both financially and, most
vitally, in terms of women and children’s lives,” the audit stated.
■ Separately, affordable housing provider Irwell Valley Homes is making a property available in Bury for women and their children escaping domestic abuse, the This is Lancashire news portal reported mid-February. A maximum of one woman and two families can be housed there at any one time, via referral from Bury Council’s housing department.