09:47PM, Thursday 09 July 2020
Domestic abuse charities have seen a huge spike in referrals during lockdown and fear figures will continue to rise as the pandemic continues.
The Dash Charity, which is based at Slough Trading Estate, and also serves people within the Royal Borough said it had a 66 per cent increase in referrals from April to June.
The charity had 70 referrals in April, 116 in May and 87 in June.
Alison Bourne, chief executive officer at Dash said the charity has had to adapt to the challenges of lockdown, which include working remotely and insufficient funding to cover the increase in referrals.
She said: “Funding is always a challenge. Just when we need it, we haven’t seen it come through.
“We haven’t got fantastic technology, we are a small charity, and a lot of the big funding has gone to national charities, who do great work but not frontline work like small local ones.”
The charity launched an urgent fundraising campaign to raise £150,000 for essential work.
It also thanked the community for donations from its Amazon Wishlist.
Alison said a lot of staff laptops did not have cameras, which made it difficult at the beginning to hold face-to-face contact with those in need.
The uncertainty over Dash’s future funding means the charity cannot keep staff on long contracts and Claire Batchelor, advocacy and outreach services manager, said it limits the charity from taking a preventative approach to domestic abuse.
Dash runs a healthy relationships workshop in schools to try and break the cycle of abuse, and works with Thames Valley Police to reduce repeated incidents but these programmes cost money.
Claire said: “We’ve never wanted to turn anyone away as we know how hard it is to call, it’s such a big thing to be sharing what they’ve been experiencing.”
The charity has urged people to get in touch if they know someone who is experiencing abuse.
Claire added: “There is a stigma that people feel embarrassed to have caused it.
“The only people that cause it is the perpetrator.
“It is their choice to be violent and coercive.
“If you see it, call it out as it could save people’s lives.”
Hestia, a domestic abuse charity which serves London and Slough, said it also saw referrals rise – by 31 per cent in Slough during lockdown.
Andrea Lawrence, service manager for Slough said: “Coming out of lockdown, there has been a huge increase, we’ve had more self referrals.
“Unfortunately a lot of people we support are living with the perpetrator and they can’t always contact us by telephone.”
(A support worker from Hestia)
She said the charity will ‘almost definitely’ see an increase in referrals if the country enters a recession and people lose their jobs.
“Money is always an issue and domestic violence has many factors. If one person is working from home the pressure may increase, it can be anything that causes pressure on an individual,” she added.
The Government has been contacted for comment about concerns raised by The Dash Charity about central funding.
There are a numbers of ways you can get in touch with domestic abuse charities if you need help.
If you are in immediate danger please call the police using 999. There is also a 24-hour National Domestic Abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247.
The Samaritans provide 24-hour emotional support and can be contacted on 116123.
If you live in the Royal Borough, The Dash Charity can be contacted Monday to Friday on 01753 549 865.
People can also call this number if they know someone who needs help.
Referrals can also be made at www.thedashcharity.org.uk or by emailing Info@thedashcharity.org.uk
If you are live in Slough contact Hestia on 0207 378 3100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For a secure email path email email@example.com
Victims of domestic abuse can access safe spaces at Boots pharmacies consultation rooms, where they can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice.
The scheme is part of Hestia’s UK Says No More campaign which launched in May.
Visit www.hestia.org to find out more.
Both charities have emergency refuge accommodation, which has remained open throughout the course of the pandemic.
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