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Victims of domestic violence to be offered temporary and free accommodation

Airbnb is partnering with Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid to help domestic violence survivors.

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(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Victims of domestic violence will be provided with temporary and free accommodation if specialist emergency facilities are not available.

The initiative comes as Airbnb partners with Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid to help domestic violence survivors in Ireland.

The country has seen a rise in domestic violence during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Airbnb said it will work through its hotel partners to provide temporary accommodation, free of charge, when specialist emergency accommodation is not available.

Domestic violence services throughout the country will assess the safety needs of survivors before facilitating bookings into the temporary hotel accommodation.

All those accommodated as part of the initiative will continue to be supported by domestic violence specialists.

Safe Ireland is the national policy and services hub for 39 domestic abuse member services.

Safe Ireland will co-ordinate the initiative with its frontline services and support from the Women’s Aid national freephone helpline.

All accommodation costs are sourced and paid for by Airbnb and HotelTonight.

Capacity in domestic violence specialist accommodation is down by approximately 25% because of the need to ensure safe social distancing and to allow for isolation units if needed.

It comes as domestic violence services are reporting a surge in calls and needs, particularly since the country started to ease restrictions.

Many services are reporting they are responding to the double trauma of lockdown and months of abuse, with many seeing a particular increase in women with multiple children coming forward and looking for crisis accommodation in the community.

Caitriona Gleeson, programme and communications manager with Safe Ireland, said the pandemic has “shone a light” onto the epidemic of domestic violence in Ireland.

“It has also sparked an incredible outpouring of empathy, understanding and support for survivors trapped with abusers,” she added.

“The security of safe accommodation is essential for women and children to be able to make their first step towards freedom and recovery.

“This generous contribution by Airbnb means that we will be able to support many more women as they come forward following lockdown.”

Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, said the national helpline responded to 39% more calls during the crisis compared to the same period in 2019.

“We are delighted to be assisting referrals through our national freephone helpline so that this supplementary accommodation is available 24/7 where refuge may not be an option,” Sarah added.

Jean Hoey, public policy lead for Airbnb in Ireland, said: “In recent months throughout the pandemic, most of us have been confined to the safety of our homes.

“For those in abusive situations, however, that environment can feel more like a prison. We are proud to support the heroic efforts of Women’s Aid, Safe Ireland and local frontline services by offering temporary safe havens for survivors right across the country.”

PA