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Women's Aid urges victims to reach out after PSNI calls peak

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Sonya McMullan

Sonya McMullan

Kevin Cooper

Sonya McMullan

Women's Aid has urged victims of domestic abuse to continue to seek help during lockdown despite most of its accommodation being full.

The charity's refuges, which offer a safe haven to families, are being protected from the pandemic so each new resident must self-isolate for 14 days before they can move in.

The PSNI has reiterated Women's Aid's call to those living with domestic violence to continue to seek help, after receiving an additional 136 calls last week from frightened families attempting to flee an abusive home.

The latest PSNI figures peaked at 721 domestic abuse calls last week compared to 583 during the first week in April.

Women's Aid, which works closely with the PSNI and Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to secure emergency provision for police referrals into emergency accommodation, now has three crash pads provincewide for very high-risk PSNI referrals and, if needed, more will be made available.

Despite the spike in demand, Women's Aid has stressed all nine of its groups here are open. The charity has switched to remote working, using web chats to provide support and outreach to families in need of help.

Sonya McMullan, Women's Aid regional services manager, said: "All our support services at Women's Aid across Northern Ireland have changed the way in which we work to meet the changing needs of the Covid-19 outbreak.

"As an organisation, we have made provisions in order to continue our key frontline work."

n Anyone suffering from domestic abuse can contact police on the non-emergency 101 number or 999 in an emergency. There is also the Silent Solutions Service which enables a 999 caller who is too scared to speak to press 55 when prompted.

n A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is also available on 0808 802 1414.

Belfast Telegraph