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Lockdown easing brings surge in demand for Refuge’s help

As coronavirus restrictions began to be relaxed across the UK in early July, there was a marked rise in women seeking emergency accommodation through support organisation Refuge.

The first week of the month saw a 54% increase in women needing refuge space compared with the last week in June.

Use of the charity’s 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Service Helpline (0808 2000 247) has stayed high. In June, calls and contacts from women, friends and family members were up 77% (to around 480 a day) compared with the 270 a day ordinarily logged.

The total number of contacts recorded  by the helpline since lockdown started on 23 March has surpassed 40,000, including women accessing a live chat service launched in May.

The service’s associated website is being visited nine times more often than pre-lockdown.

“Refuge has seen huge spikes in the number of women who have needed our support during lockdown, and as restrictions start to ease we are seeing demand rise yet more,” said director of operations Jane Keeper.

“While we cannot draw immediate conclusions from this, what it does tell us is that women have remained with their perpetrators during lockdown, which may explain why we’ve seen an increase in the numbers of concerned third parties who have contacted us to seek support.”

She added: “As restrictions have begun to ease, which has given women space to make plans to leave their abuser, we have seen a large rise in the numbers of women requiring emergency refuge accommodation.”

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