Domestic abuse charity campaigners and services highlighted fears of an escalation in abusive behaviour over the Christmas period – as people spend more time with abusive partners, there’s higher alcohol consumption and worries over money.
“Domestic abuse is the leading cause of homelessness, particularly for women. This year, COVID has had a major impact on our work – from the rise in demand, to the need to provide support for longer, as well as the complexity of needs we’re seeing,” says Lynne Livsey, Head of Programmes at Oasis Community Housing.
“Victims of domestic abuse have been locked down with their abusers, exacerbating their situation and making withdrawal from their environment almost impossible.”
The charity’s Empower service has recently received a much-needed grant from AkzoNobel’s True Colours Community Fund. The global coatings manufacturer has an internal campaign to educate and empower employees around domestic abuse, which launched during the pandemic, to raise awareness and as part of their Mental Health in the Workplace work.
Michaela Warwick, Section Leader at AkzoNobel, who nominated Oasis Community Housing’s domestic abuse service for the company’s grant, explains:
“For almost two years now, charities have been hit by reduced opportunities for fundraising due to the global pandemic. The work that Oasis Community Housing do is so important and aligns closely with AkzoNobel’s internal campaign around domestic abuse, that I thought that they were the perfect choice to receive a True Colours fund donation.
“I’m so pleased to hear how it is already positively impacting the lives of local people in need and look forward to continuing to work with the charity in the future.”
The charity’s Empower service provides one to one and peer support groups to allow people a safe space to open up and find their voice again. Equipping women to make safe choices and understand what a healthy relationship looks like. The team restores people’s confidence and empowers them to move forwards by helping them to access legal advice and make safety and recovery plans.
The True Colours Community Fund will be used to provide a discretionary fund for the Empower programme to support women’s recovery, help build resilience and keep them safe. This includes paying for: counselling sessions to support mental health needs; childcare; safety cameras and locks for windows; and an interpreter to help access professional services like solicitors, social works and health visitors.
Lynne, who oversees Oasis Community Housing’s Empower, continues: “Our discretionary fund offers a real life-line for the women we support through our Empower domestic abuse service. For example, using this fund we were recently able to cover the costs of a removal van which helped a woman to move into a new property and begin a new life free of domestic abuse.
“She now feels so much safer, happier and has started one of our educational programmes.”