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Press releases

Refuge statement on migrant women amendment in the Domestic Abuse Bill
Refuge statement on migrant women amendment in the Domestic Abuse Bill

Refuge statement on migrant women amendment in the Domestic Abuse Bill Cordelia Tucker O'Sullivan, Refuge senior policy and public affairs manager said: 'Last night the Domestic Abuse Bill, many years in the making, took another crucial step towards becoming law.  Refuge is delighted that the government listened to Refuge and survivors, and that the Bill will make threats to share intimate images a crime, and we look forward to the Bill becoming law later this year. However, the rejection of the amendment to protect migrant women experiencing domestic abuse is a huge disappointment. Frontline organisations, such as Refuge, Southall Black Sisters, and Latin American Women's Rights Service who work with migrant women every day know just how important it is to ensure they too, are protected, regardless of whether they have the 'right' type of visa. Refuge stands in solidarity with the Step Up Migrant Women coalition and wholeheartedly support repeated calls for the protection of migrant women, who are so often locked out of accessing the specialist support they need. This was a real opportunity for the government to ensure that all women, regardless of where they happen to have been born, have access to the life-saving protection they need and deserve. Insecure immigration status should never be a barrier to accessing support and Refuge will continue to fight for all women to have access to the protection they need. The falling of this amendment sends a very worrying message to migrant women, and Refuge hopes the government will think again and ensure a solution which supports women with 'no recourse to public funds' or with insecure immigration status is swiftly forthcoming. Women's lives depend on it'. ENDS Notes to Editors For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

New Economics Foundation (NEF) analysis of Refuge's specialist services
New Economics Foundation (NEF) analysis of Refuge's specialist services

Refuge announces New Economics Foundation (NEF) analysis of spend on its specialist services. For every £1 invested, £8.24 of social value is generated; a 100% increase in just five years In 2020, Refuge, the country's largest provider of specialist domestic abuse services, commissioned NEF Consulting (NEF) to carry out an analysis of how much societal (i.e. social and economic) value is delivered from every £1 it spends on its services. Over the year period NEF found that for every £1 Refuge spends on services it generated an average of £8.24 of social value (this represents a near doubling of value created compared to 2016 when NEF last undertook this evaluation).   NEF estimates the total social value generated by Refuge’s specialist services at £86 million per year. Jane Keeper, director of operations and services at Refuge, said: “Refuge supports around 7,000 women and children on any given day. Our frontline services not only change and save the lives of women and children experiencing domestic abuse in this country – but also bring wider societal value to the women we support. The analysis also found that savings to the State from Refuge's services were highest in the area of health, followed closely by safety, through reduced costs to the criminal justice system.  It is wonderful to see – and testament to our amazing frontline workers – that NEF has been able to show the value our services deliver which is more than eight times our spend. “This evaluation makes a very strong and clear case for funding specialist domestic abuse services. We hope these figures will be well received by our commissioners and donors and make them feel yet more confident that when they support Refuge’s specialist services, we will use their money wisely and maximise the outcomes we deliver for women and children.” Beti Baraki, Consultant, NEF Consulting, said: “We have been commissioned by Refuge to prepare a social valuation of its services. The study analysed the impact generated by Refuge’s services for three sets of stakeholders: women, their children, and the State. The study found the social value generated by Refuge’s services is eight times greater than the amount of money invested in them, demonstrating the vital support Refuge provides for survivors of violence. Yet violence against women remains widespread with devastating impact on survivors, their children and the wider society. This study is a clear indication of the need for a long-term, sustainable funding for specialist domestic violence services, which reflect the social value they generate”. ENDS Notes to editors: To arrive at this calculation, NEF analysed Refuge’s anonymised IMPACT case outcome data and assigned financial proxies to each outcome,  to 'value' the social value or change Refuge made to the lives of the women using its services, their children and the State Outcomes, or the changes in women’s lives, were then identified and grouped into four categories; safety, health, social wellbeing and economic wellbeing The analysis found that State savings were highest in the area of health, followed closely by safety through reduced costs to the criminal justice system Distribution of benefits: Of the three stakeholders groups (women, their children, and the State) women capture the largest share of benefits at 82%. Children capture 20% of the value and the State incurs a net cost of 2%. The distribution of benefits by outcome domain is unequivocal: safety accounts for 59% of the social return on investment; social and economic wellbeing account for 21% and 11% respectively; with health accounting for the remaining 8% NEF Consulting is the consultancy within the New Economics Foundation. To contact or for more information on their analysis they can be contacted via research@nefconsulting.com or visit www.nefconsulting.com. Read the report here. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

A year of lockdown: Refuge releases new figures showing dramatic increase in activity
A year of lockdown: Refuge releases new figures showing dramatic increase in activity

A year of lockdown: Refuge releases new figures showing dramatic increase in activity across its specialist domestic abuse services. Between April 2020 and February 2021 calls and contacts* logged on Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline (NDAH) up by average of 61% 72% of people supported by NDAH were women experiencing abuse Women supported in multiple languages by specialist staff 4,481 referrals made to secure refuges across country 11,616 safety plans created Average of seven-fold increase in visits to specialist website www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk More than 5,200 'live chats' have taken place since new service launched in May 2020 Refuge, the country's largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services, marks one year on since the Prime Minister announced the country would go into immediate 'lockdown' by releasing a consolidated overview of activity across its specialist services between April 2020 and February 2021. During this period (April 2020 – February 2021), Refuge has, on average, logged more than 13,162 calls and contacts* to its specialist National Domestic Abuse Helpline services per month (up from an average of 8,176 per month between January and March 2020), pulling into sharp focus the sheer number of women needing support. This is a worrying trend, particularly as being isolated with an abusive partner is likely to have made reaching out for support more challenging. During the reporting period, 72% of those supported by Refuge’s specialist Helpline team were women experiencing violence and abuse. Women of all ages called us during this period, but the most common age-bracket was 30-39. Our specialist team also spoke to professionals, such as police, social workers and healthcare staff (11% of those we supported) and members of the public who were concerned that a friend, family member, or neighbour was experiencing domestic abuse (10% of those we supported). Domestic abuse is, of course, more than just physical violence. It can be economic, sexual or emotional abuse, coercive control or abuse perpetrated through the misuse of technology. During the pandemic, our Helpline team received calls from women who were being terrorised in their own homes, women who were afraid to seek treatment for their injuries in case they overburden hospital staff, women whose court cases had been delayed, women making plans to flee the home, and women with no home to go to. Where the type of abuse was recorded, nearly one in five (19%) of the women we spoke to had experienced threats to kill from their abusers. 10% had had weapons used against them. 16% had been strangled. During the same period (Jan – Dec 2020), our expert Helpline team made 4,481 referrals to secure refuges, enabling women to flee abusive partners, signposted survivors to other specialist domestic abuse services in their communities 32,811 times, and empowered women with information about their rights and options 56,596 times (for example, around child contact, civil orders, reporting to the police, making an emergency homelessness application) Lisa King, Refuge director of communications and external relations said: 'What these statistics show is that activity across Refuge's specialist services has increased significantly during lockdown. Between April 2020 and February 2021, the average number of calls and contacts logged* on our database per month was 61% above the January-March 2020 period, pulling into sharp focus just how many women across the country have been experiencing domestic abuse during the pandemic and how many need the specialist, confidential support Refuge provides. For women and children experiencing domestic abuse, home is not a safe place. Lockdown measures, where women have been isolated and confined with their perpetrators more than ever before, have compounded their exposure to violence and abuse. This time last year Refuge moved quickly to ensure its services were able to continue to run and run safely. We mobilised our National Domestic Abuse Helpline - ordinarily run from a cyber-secure office environment to an entirely remote operation; we ensured our frontline workers were given key worker status and we moved fast to set up an online live chat service in May, recognising that women who were trapped at home with their abusers were likely to find the ordinarily limited window to call for help increasingly restricted. In November we extended our live chat service hours as lockdown progressed, and in response to the growing numbers of women accessing this confidential ‘silent’ support. More than 5,200 'live chat' conversations have taken place since the service launched. As restrictions ease we want any woman who needs us to access our support. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you are not alone, Refuge is here for you.' Full report on lockdown activity available here. *Calls and contacts logged does not equal demand. One woman may access our services multiple times. We log all interactions on phone and allied Helpline services. Notes to Editors For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Refuge responds to government formally accepting amendment calling for threats to share intimate images to be made a crime.
Refuge responds to government formally accepting amendment calling for threats to share intimate images to be made a crime.

Refuge responds to government formally accepting Amendment 48, calling for threatening to share intimate image and films to be made a crime. Tonight, in the House of Lords, as part of the Report Stage of the Domestic Abuse Bill, the government formally accepted Amendment 48, which called for threatening to share intimate images to be made a crime. Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Refuge Chair, said: ‘Refuge is delighted that tonight, in the House of Lords, the government formally agreed to make threatening to share intimate images a crime as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill, by accepting amendment 48, tabled by Baroness Morgan and supported by Peers from across the House. 1 in 7 young women have experienced these threats to share, and will now be protected. Almost 45,000 Refuge supporters called on the government to make this change. Refuge is grateful to everyone that took action, to the government for listening to survivors and acting on what they heard, to the brave survivors we work with every day and to Baroness Morgan for her tenacity and commitment in tabling this amendment. This is a victory for women and girls' Baroness Nicky Morgan said: 'I am thrilled that, in just a few months, we've managed to build such momentum behind this important issue. Together with Refuge, with their supporters, with a group of cross-party Peers, and, crucially, with brave survivors who have shared their story, we have secured government support for making threatening to share intimate images a crime. I'm grateful to the government for moving swiftly and decisively. Together, we have changed the law and ensured protection for millions of women across England and Wales'. ENDS Notes to Editors Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has a Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk.

Refuge teams up with British GQ
Refuge teams up with British GQ

Refuge teams up with British GQ to urge men to #ChooseToChallenge domestic abuse in support of International Women’s Day 8 March 2021. Refuge, the country's largest provider of specialist domestic abuse services has teamed up with leading men's magazine British GQ to help drive awareness of domestic abuse to its predominantly male readership. With a print, digital and social audience reach of 10.4 million a month, GQ is in a unique position to speak to men across the country about domestic abuse, a gendered crime. Domestic abuse is a crime most often perpetrated by men, against women. It stems from gender inequality and is rooted in power and control. Central to addressing domestic abuse is ensuring an understanding of its gendered nature, challenging male attitudes to abuse and educating men about the very real suffering of women across the world at the hands of male violence - as well as encouraging men to #ChooseToChallenge attitudes towards women which can perpetuate gender inequality. By offering GQ’s significant platforms to this issue ahead of International Women’s Day (including a 10-page feature in the magazine, on the shelves today) GQ is shining a mighty light on domestic abuse and bringing its huge weight to the table in pushing for attitudinal change. This feature complements perfectly the global theme for International Women’s Day 2021, which is 'commit to challenge'. George Chesterton, British GQ political editor, and author of the magazine feature said: ‘I didn’t write this article on behalf of women, but to men. GQ has changed a lot over the years, and although we have a substantial female readership, we remain a magazine aimed predominantly at men. This gives me an opportunity to write something in-depth about issues that are among the most urgent yet underreported and misunderstood in our society. The more I learned, the greater the responsibility I felt to tell the stories of the women who had experienced domestic abuse, to amplify their voices and to speak to people who had made it their life’s work to fight it. Above all, my aim was to make men think about and better understand these issues. I also wanted them to think about the part they can play – in relationships, families, peer groups and society as a whole – in the effort to stop violence against women and girls, and to ask them to #ChooseToChallenge themselves about attitudes and behaviour that are prevalent across all walks of life. I sincerely hope I did the survivors justice, as it was a privilege and an inspiration to speak to them and I’d like to thank Refuge for their invaluable support and cooperation in making this feature possible.’ Lisa King, director of communications at Refuge said: 'Refuge is immensely grateful to George and all at British GQ for making this feature possible. One of the challenges we face as campaigners and advocates against domestic abuse is ensuring people understand what it is, who is doing what to whom, and the impact it is has on women and children. When Refuge first opened its doors in 1971, domestic abuse was seen as something that happened behind closed doors, and something which society should not intervene in. Since then, laws and policies have changed and with it the understanding of domestic abuse is evolving -indeed, the Domestic Abuse Bill, a new and important piece of legislation, will start its report stage in the House of Lords on International Women’s Day. British GQ's platform gives us the opportunity to speak to men right across the country, and ask them to #ChooseToChallenge domestic abuse, in their peer groups, their workplace, their family, their community, and wherever they might see it. Men have a vital role to play in ending violence against women and we are hopeful that, together, we can ensure women can live free from fear and abuse.' British GQ is on the shelves today, 04th March, and its owned and operated channels will be carrying content to support International Women’s Day on Monday 08th March.    ENDS Notes to Editors For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Refuge responds to 2021 Budget
Refuge responds to 2021 Budget

Tracy Blackwell, Refuge head of development said: 'The Chancellor is right to refer to domestic abuse as a 'hidden tragedy' but sadly this hidden tragedy is not just limited to lockdown. Women experience male violence all year round and financial support for frontline services must reflect this ongoing need, by allowing services to plan for the future and move away from the funding cliff edge many find themselves on year after year. There is still a huge gap for refuge funding - estimates say £173 million is needed but only £125 million has been committed so far. Refuge would also have liked to have seen this budget include an increase in funds for community-based services for survivors of domestic abuse, such as Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) with estimates suggesting that £220 million is needed to ensure adequate provision of such services. Right now, across the country Refuge is supporting 7,000 women and children – 6,000 of whom are accessing our community services and around 1,700 of whom are living with their perpetrators. Not all women who come to Refuge for support are able, or ready, to leave their perpetrators, and we support them through community led services which provide life-changing and life-saving support to women who need it.' ENDS Notes to Editors For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Refuge responds to Ministry of Justice announcement to make threatening to share intimate images a crime
Refuge responds to Ministry of Justice announcement to make threatening to share intimate images a crime

Victory for women who face threats to share their intimate images – as government commits to making it a crime. (Interviews available on request with Refuge spokespeople, Zara McDermott, survivor and campaigner Natasha Saunders and Baroness Nicky Morgan. Please contact the Refuge press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk) The Naked Threat Campaign, led by Refuge, its supporters, survivors, celebrities and Baroness Morgan secures law change at first opportunity. Refuge says this is a ‘victory for women and girls and testimony to the power of campaigning together’. Baroness Morgan says ‘At the start of this campaign, I said it was my duty as a politician to stand up and protect women and girls and I am delighted the government has recognised the urgency of securing this law change Just under 45,000 Refuge supporters wrote to government ministers urging them to make law change. Campaign video fronted by Refuge ambassador Olivia Colman and campaign supporter Zara McDermott calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland to change the law viewed over 180,000 times on social media. Refuge is thrilled that the government has committed to amending the Domestic Abuse Bill to make threats to share intimate images a criminal offence. This is a victory for women and girls and brings a huge sense of relief to the 1 in 7 young women who experience this form of abuse in the UK, and have had limited recourse to justice. Refuge has been working tirelessly for many months to bring this devastating form of domestic abuse to the top of the political agenda and we are delighted that the government has recognised this urgent need for change. Until now, only the sharing of intimate images has been a crime – this will change when the Domestic Abuse Bill becomes law. The success of The Naked Threat campaign is a shared one and is testament to the power of working together. This victory for women and girls has been made possible thanks to the dedication of brave survivors who have shared their stories; Refuge’s specialist tech abuse team, who continue to support survivors experiencing threats to share; politicians including Baroness Nicky Morgan, Lord Ken Macdonald and Caroline Nokes MP who have pushed for this vital amendment to the Bill; and Refuge supporters, Olivia Colman and Zara McDermott as well as survivor Natasha Saunders, who have helped us raise awareness of this issue. Refuge also owes a huge debt of thanks to its supporters, just under 45,000 of whom sent letters to the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice calling for them to change the law around intimate image-based abuse; and to the more than 180,000 who viewed our video message to Priti Patel, the Home Secretary (created free of charge by creative agency AMV BBDO and supported by media partner Cosmo). Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, chair of Refuge said: ‘This is a fantastic outcome for Refuge and for the women and children it serves. Threatening to share intimate images has become a powerful way in which men who abuse women control their choices and it is heart-warming to know that the government has listened to survivor voices. As we see the Domestic Abuse Bill enter its report stage next week we will do so knowing that it will transform this country’s response to women and children who experience domestic abuse.’ Lisa King, Refuge director of communications and external relations said: ‘This is a significant moment for women experiencing domestic abuse who have been threatened with the sharing of their private intimate images and we are thrilled that the government has recognised the need for urgent change. Our research found that 1 in 7 young women have experienced these threats to share, with the overwhelming majority experiencing them from a current or former partner, alongside other forms of abuse. The Domestic Abuse Bill provides the perfect legislative vehicle for this change, and the government has acted quickly and decisively. This is a victory for women and girls and testimony to the power of working together for change. ’Refuge’s specialist tech team identified this gap in the law and our campaign, launched last summer, gave a clear pathway to change. We have worked with brave survivors throughout this campaign who have shared their stories – ensuring that the government could see and hear from the people impacted by this issue. Refuge is grateful to every woman who has come forward and told us their experiences – they have helped us change the law.' Baroness Morgan, former Minister for Women and Equalities and former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: ‘I know from my time in DCMS just how technology has been used not only for good, but also as a tool of abuse. Together with Refuge, with survivors of abuse and with colleagues from across the House, I’ve been determined to secure this law change. I am grateful to the government for acting decisively. This simple law change can help to transform the response to domestic abuse across the country and better protect women and girls. At the start of this campaign, I said it was my duty as a politician to stand up and protect women and girls and I’m delighted the government has recognised the urgency of securing this law change.’ Zara McDermott, Love Island star and campaigner said: ‘This is such welcome news. My life when I left the Love Island villa was turned upside down as a result of the sharing of intimate images. I’m so glad I’ve been able to use my platform to support Refuge and call for this change in the law. Together with survivors, with politicians and with the thousands of supporters that took action, we did it! Change is coming and I am thrilled’. Natasha Saunders, survivor of domestic abuse said: ‘My perpetrator threatened to share my intimate images with friends and family. He did so to attempt to further control and abuse me.  I was terrified of the consequences and it had a huge impact on me. I am now free from my abuser but every day I know that there are millions of women experiencing the things I was forced to endure for so long. I am so pleased that the government has not only listened to survivors of domestic abuse, but also acted on what they heard. This is a huge victory for women like me’.

Refuge appoints new CEO
Refuge appoints new CEO

Refuge, the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services, is thrilled to announce the appointment of Ruth Davison as its new Chief Executive Officer. Davison joins from Comic Relief where she is interim CEO. This appointment comes as Refuge supports more women and children than ever before - more than 7,000 on any given day - and with domestic abuse never being higher on the political or public agenda. Davison’s extensive CV includes Princes Trust International, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and Crisis, as well as her current role with Comic Relief, one of the largest funders of work to tackle violence against women and girls in the UK. She brings a wealth of experience, is an authentic leader and will take Refuge to the next level with her commitment, drive and passion. With the Domestic Abuse Bill currently going through its final stages in Parliament and commitments from the government to transform the response to domestic abuse across the country, Davison will take the reins at a time of great opportunity, as well as at a time when specialist domestic abuse services, like those provided by Refuge, are needed more than ever. Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, chair of Refuge’s Board of Trustees said: “I am delighted to announce Ruth Davison as Refuge’s new Chief Executive. Ruth brings to Refuge a wealth of experience, expertise and insights and a deep commitment to addressing domestic abuse and inequality. This year Refuge celebrates its 50th birthday – I have no doubt that Ruth’s inspirational leadership skills and her proven commitment to diversity and inclusivity will drive and build Refuge, and the broader violence against women and girls sector, to a sustainable future which achieves yet more for the women and children who experience domestic abuse in this country today.” As CEO at Comic Relief, Davison led the organisation through the global pandemic - growing income and brand awareness by delivering two live TV Telethons - raising a combined total of more than £100 million. This enabled the organisation to accelerate its grant making and increase the funds available to frontline organisations. Davison also led Comic Relief’s social change strategy, global philanthropic portfolio as well as its policy and advocacy work. Before becoming CEO of Comic Relief, Ruth held the position of Executive Director of Impact and Investment, where she established Gender Justice as one of the four pillars of Comic Relief’s funding strategy and focused on shifting power in grant-making; under Ruth’s leadership Comic Relief introduced participatory grant-making, prioritised funding to organisations whose strategies and approach were informed by lived experience and introduced an overt focus on addressing inequality in all funding. During 2020, this led to Comic Relief delivering its first racial inequality funding programme to address the disproportionate impact Covid-19 had on Black, Asian and minority people, and the historic under-funding of organisations working with these communities. Davison is a lifelong activist, and a Board member of Greenpeace UK. Ruth Davison said: “It is an honour to be joining Refuge as Chief Executive during such a critical time. “I am a firm believer that no one should live in fear of violence, intimidation or control, and it has been deeply alarming to see the rise in domestic abuse during the pandemic. The outstanding services and support of Refuge will play a crucial role in helping some of the most vulnerable women and families throughout the Covid-19 recovery. “I look forward to working closely with colleagues, supporters and survivors. The organisation is guided by those we seek to support and together we will ensure that Refuge grows from strength to strength as an inclusive, innovative and impactful organisation that strives to build a world where domestic abuse and violence against women and girls is no longer tolerated.”

Refuge ambassador Olivia Colman makes direct plea to Priti Patel to make threats to share intimate images a crime
Refuge ambassador Olivia Colman makes direct plea to Priti Patel to make threats to share intimate images a crime

As the Domestic Abuse Bill enters its final stages before becoming law, Refuge, Olivia Colman (Refuge ambassador), survivor Natasha Saunders, influencer Zara McDermott and Baroness Nicky Morgan are calling on the Government – and in particular Home Secretary, Priti Patel and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland – to make threats to share intimate images crime. Refuge has today launched a powerful video with a direct plea to the Home Secretary to change the law. Refuge’s #TheNakedThreat campaign has received huge public support with over 38, 000 letters being sent to government ministers over the last few months. As the Bill reaches the 11th hour Refuge hopes this video will be shared far and wide by those who want the see the law strengthened to protect women. We are asking all supporters of this change in the law to tag @PritiPatel to show them that they want them to take action. Baroness Morgan, former Minister for Women and Equalities and former Secretary of State for DCMS said: “I know from my time as Minister for Women just how widespread and devastating domestic abuse is, and from my time as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport how new and emerging forms of technology are being used to facilitate abuse. That's why I'm supporting Refuge's campaign to make threatening to share intimate images a crime via the Domestic Abuse Bill and have tabled an amendment to the Bill that would achieve this. “I know the government recognises the importance of this issue - but we need them to act now. The law must urgently catch up with the ways in which perpetrators are using technology to control and intimidate their partners and ex-partners, The Bill gives us the opportunity to make threatening to share intimate images a crime. Women cannot wait and I see it as my duty to stand up and say so.” Ellie Butt, head of policy and parliamentary affairs at Refuge, said: “The Domestic Abuse Bill has the potential to be a landmark piece of legislation – but only if we ensure the legislation responds to the realities women face. So much of our lives are lived online, which is increasingly causing harm and enabling abuse – the Revenge Porn Helpline has seen calls about threats to share intimate images more than triple between 2017 and 2020 and rise 73% between 2019 and 2020. Making threats to share intimate images a crime will make a real difference to the thousands of women Refuge supports every day who are experiencing abuse via technology. They themselves know best what is needed – a law change that will help provide better protection. The time to change the law is now.” Zara McDermott said: “I’ve been on the receiving end of ‘revenge porn’ threats and know exactly how damaging it can be. I’ve heard from countless other women that they too have had similar experiences. This change in the law really could make a difference to the lives of so many women. I hope that the Government will hear our message loud and clear and push for the changes we are asking for – a swift and simple amendment to the law really could make a difference. The time to act is now.” Notes to editors: A recent survey by Refuge showed that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales – 4.4 million people – have received these threats to share. Young women are disproportionately impacted, with 1 in 7 with 1 experiencing these threats. Lord Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions: ‘It is critical that women are protected, and this simple legal change can do that – but we should act now’ Supporters can join Refuge’s campaign to end the Naked Threat here. Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. With a sharp rise in women seeking support during lockdown and as the country has moved into a third lockdown, the need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater. Note for media: Please signpost to Refuge’s Freephone 24hr National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted, or to access live chat (available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has an Online Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk and www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.  

Refuge responds to government announcement of funding pot for victims of rape and domestic abuse
Refuge responds to government announcement of funding pot for victims of rape and domestic abuse

In response to the governments announcement of a £40 million funding pot, Tracy Blackwell, head of development at Refuge said: ‘Never before have so many survivors of domestic and sexual abuse come forward for support than during the Covide-19 crisis. Refuge hopes to turn to this £40million pot to fund the life-saving IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advocate) services it runs which urgently need financial support. We anticipate demand for these services to increase once the court system is back up and running - there are hundreds of thousands of cases held in the backlog which will need their day in court. However, this is another short-term pot of funding which cannot meet the urgent need for a sustainable funding strategy which provides for all specialist services – including Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline which needs additional long-term funding to deal with increased demand. Our Helpline acts as a lifeline to women and children who experience abuse – and offers them the gateway to services across the country. This service, alongside the many others we run across the country, including refuges, outreach services, and other vital community-based services save and change lives and must run with the assurance of adequate funding. Refuge calls on the government to end its short-term approach to announcing ad-hoc pots of funding and instead build and fund long term plans that sustain and grow essential services. Women and children’s lives depend on it.’ ENDS Notes to Editors Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. With a sharp rise in women seeking support during lockdown, and as the country is moved into a third lockdown the need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has a Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk.

Refuge calls for Domestic Abuse Bill to be bold and transformative
Refuge calls for Domestic Abuse Bill to be bold and transformative

As the Domestic Abuse Bill, many years in the making, starts its crucial 'Committee Stage' in the House of Lords, Refuge, the country’s largest provider of specialist domestic abuse services calls for a Bill which is as ‘bold and transformative as it has the potential to be.’ Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Chair of Refuge said: 'Refuge is delighted that the Domestic Abuse Bill starts its important Committee Stage in the House of Lords this afternoon. Refuge stands ready to work with the government to make the Bill as bold and transformative as it has the potential to be, and we hope the government will cement its commitment to addressing domestic abuse as the bill moves to become legislation. Women’s lives depend on it, and the time to act is now. As we have seen throughout the Covid-19 crisis, domestic abuse remains the biggest issue facing women and girls. The need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater, and while the Bill has the potential to be transformational, Refuge believes that will only be achieved if vital changes are made. As a priority, Refuge would like to see the Bill make a simple change to the law, which would better protect women and girls from image-based abuse. Currently, while sharing intimate images without consent is a crime, threatening to do so is not . This is an issue affecting millions of women and girls up and down the country. Refuge research found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales had received such threats, with 1 in 7 young women impacted. 72% of women who received these threats experienced them from a current or former partner - making this a domestic abuse issue. The government has the perfect legislative vehicle to make this change with the Domestic Abuse Bill, and we hope they will seize this opportunity. The second reading, just a week back, showed the breadth of support that exists across the House for this legal change, and we are confident the government will recognise this as a priority and act fast. Refuge is also calling for reforms to the benefits system - currently, Universal Credit advances are paid as loans, and, by default, into one account. Refuge wants to ensure these advances are paid as grants, which would help ensure women are able to flee abusive partners with some funds available - and that by having payments made into separate accounts, their perpetrators would have less control over their finances. We also hope that the Bill will include a truly gendered definition of domestic abuse. The overwhelming majority of victims of domestic abuse are women, and the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men. The Bill must be grounded in that reality. Finally, Refuge strongly supports the work of the Step Up for Migrant Women campaign and hopes that the government will ensure that all women and children, regardless of immigration status, are able to access specialist support. No one should be afraid of or unable to ask for help because of insecure immigration status and having ‘no recourse to public funds’ should never be a barrier to escaping an abusive partner.’ ENDS Notes to Editors Supporters can join Refuge's campaign to end the Naked Threat here. Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. With a sharp rise in women seeking support during lockdown, and as the country is moved into a third lockdown the need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has a Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk.

Domestic Abuse Bill Committee Stage begins, including opportunity to criminalise threats to share intimate images
Domestic Abuse Bill Committee Stage begins, including opportunity to criminalise threats to share intimate images

Critical Committee Stage to begin which can bring about urgent law change via Domestic Abuse Bill  Peers, Refuge, and Revenge Porn Helpline stand united in their call for the threat to share intimate images to be made a crime. Revenge Porn Helpline sees calls about threats to share intimate images more than triple between 2017 and 2020 and rise 73% between 2019 and 2020. The long-awaited and much needed Domestic Abuse Bill starts its Committee Stage on 25th January - this is the last chance in this session of Parliament to change the law to protect women from image-based abuse. The time for the government to act is now. Every day this change to the law is delayed is another day that women are unable to access a criminal justice response to threats to share their intimate images. Refuge, largest single provider of specialist services to women and girls experiencing domestic abuse: ‘the time to change the law is now’. The Revenge Porn Helpline, which runs the county’s only dedicated Helpline on this issue: ‘around a fifth of our calls over the last two years have been from people concerned about threats to        share. Calls on this issue have increased by around 73% during the same time frame -  we cannot ignore that. Lord Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions: ‘it is critical that women are protected, and this simple legal change can do that - but we should act now’ Baroness Morgan, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS): ‘women cannot wait – and it is our duty as politicians to stand up and say so’ The Domestic Abuse Bill, a landmark piece of legislation designed to transform the response to domestic abuse across the country, begins its Committee Stage in the House of Lords on Monday, 25th January. This stage of the Bill gives a unique opportunity to strengthen the law so that it offers better protection to women from the growing and insidious problem of image-based abuse. More than 34,000 people have sent a letter to the government calling for this law change and the Bill’s recent second reading shows the cross-party support for this law change. The Revenge Porn Helpline, a specialist Helpline set up in 2015 saw calls about threats to share more than triple between 2017 and 2020 and rise by 73% between 2019 and 2020. This is a problem which is growing, and one which the government must act now to address. Threatening to share intimate images and films is currently not a crime. A recent survey by Refuge showed that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales - 4.4 million people - have received these threats to share. Young women are disproportionately impacted, with 1 in 7 with 1 experiencing these threats. The Revenge Porn Helpline receives around a fifth of its total calls ear on year from people experiencing such threats. Lord Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions said: ‘Protection from image-based abuse currently only exists if intimate images or films are actually shared. But this is wholly inadequate and leaves women and girls vulnerable to threats that cause enormous damage and distress. Police and prosecutors can only protect women and girls if the law allows them to do so. This small change to the law would enable the criminal justice system to offer the protection that women who are experiencing these threats need. The government has shown that it takes image-based abuse seriously, by making the sharing of images a crime in 2015 - but laws must be fit for purpose and they must evolve and reflect reality. It is critical that women and girls should be protected from this cruel behaviour and this legal change can do that - but we should act now.’ Baroness Morgan, former Minister for Women and Equalities and former Secretary of State for DCMS said: ‘I know from my time as Minister for Women just how devastating image-based abuse can be - but also how we must ensure legislation responds to the realities women face. As so much of our lives are now lived digitally, we know that technology can also be used to facilitate harm and abuse. This swift and simple change in the law will help protect millions of women. I know the commitment across government to make this change is there – but we must act now. The Domestic Abuse Bill is the perfect legislative vehicle by which to do this. Women simply cannot wait and as politicians, it is our duty to stand up and say so.’ Ellie Butt, head of policy and public affairs at Refuge said:   ‘'It is vital that the law keeps up to date with the ways in which perpetrators use technology as part of a pattern of domestic abuse. We need to take this opportunity that the Domestic Abuse Bill provides, to make threatening to share intimate images a crime. We are hopeful that the government will seize this opportunity and act fast.  This could make a real difference to the thousands of women Refuge supports every day who are experiencing abuse via technology. They themselves know best what is needed - a law change that will help provide better protection. The time to change the law is now.’ Sophie Mortimer, Helpline Manager at The Revenge Porn Helpline said: 'We receive thousands of calls every year from people experiencing intimate image abuse - a devastating form of abuse. While revenge porn is rightly illegal, we are seeing large numbers of women coming forward asking for help who are being threatened with their intimate images being shared. A fifth of our calls over the past two years have been from people concerned about threats to share. Between 2017 and 2020 the number of calls on this issue more than tripled and rose by 73% between 2019 and 2020 alone We cannot ignore these statistics. The law is out of date and does not help the increasing number of women who are contacting us about these threats. If we are really going to transform the response to domestic abuse, we must make threatening to share intimate images a crime. The Bill is a simple and swift way to do this. ENDS Notes to Editors Numbers of calls received by the Revenge Porn Helpline about threats to share -  note these EXCLUDE calls about sextortion. 2017: 162 2018: 195 2019: 296 2020: 513 Supporters can join Refuge's campaign to end the Naked Threat here. Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. With a sharp rise in women seeking support during lockdown, and as the country is moved into a third lockdown the need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has a Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk.

Domestic Abuse Bill returns, Refuge calls for threats to share intimate images to be made a crime
Domestic Abuse Bill returns, Refuge calls for threats to share intimate images to be made a crime

Refuge calls for threats to share intimate images to be made a crime, as the Domestic Abuse Bill returns to the Lords. Refuge, the largest specialist domestic abuse service provider in England, is calling for the Domestic Abuse Bill to include the provision to make threatening to share intimate images and films a crime. Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Chair of Refuge said: “We are delighted that the Bill returns to parliament today for its second reading in the House of Lords. As a priority, Refuge would like to see the Bill incorporate a simple change to the law, which would better protect women and girls from image-based abuse. At the moment, while sharing intimate images without consent is a crime, threatening to do so is not. This is an issue affecting millions of women and girls up and down the country. Refuge research found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales had received such threats, with 1 in 7 young women impacted. 72% of women who received these threats experienced them from a current or former partner - making this a clear domestic abuse issue. The government has the perfect legislative vehicle to make this change with the Domestic Abuse Bill, and we hope they will seize this opportunity. Today’s second reading is a hugely important moment and one which Refuge hopes the government will seize as there is still so much more to be done” In addition, Refuge is campaigning for the Bill to ensure: That Universal Credit advances are paid as grants not loans to survivors of domestic abuse, and that they are paid, by default, into separate accounts. This is vital for women who are fleeing an abusive partner and who need financial independence from perpetrators. That the Bill carries a gendered definition of domestic abuse. The overwhelming majority of victims of domestic abuse are women and the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men. The Bill must be grounded in this reality. That migrant survivors, often locked out of accessing domestic abuse services due to their immigration status and having ‘no recourse to public funds’, are able to access they support that they need. That the funds made available for the legal duty to fund refuges are ring-fenced for specialist refuge provision and are sufficient to ensure that no woman or child is turned away. The Bill’s journey through the House of Lords is the final chance to make these crucial amendments, and Refuge is working around the clock to help ensure the Bill is as bold and transformative as it has the potential to be. Refuge is delighted that more than 90 peers have registered to speak in today’s debate. This demonstrates the support that exists for a strong and robust Bill that helps save and change lives. Women and children cannot wait - the time to act is now. ENDS Notes to Editors Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. With a sharp rise in women seeking support during lockdown, and as the country is moved into a third lockdown the need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater. Supporters can join Refuge's campaign to end the Naked Threat here. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has a Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk.

The Domestic Abuse Bill returning to Parliament - what you need to know
The Domestic Abuse Bill returning to Parliament - what you need to know

On the 5th January, the Domestic Abuse Bill will return to the House of Lords for its Second Reading. This is a hugely important time. This Bill has the potential to be truly transformational, but there is still work to do before that is a reality. Refuge believes that for the Bill to be as bold and effective as it needs to be, in order to better support women and girls, that there are some significant changes that still need to be made. Covid-19 really has pulled into sharp focus the level of domestic abuse across the country and the sheer numbers of women who need the specialist, confidential support that Refuge provides. We hope that this wakeup call will push the government to do everything it can to ensure the Bill is as strong as it can be. On average, two women a week are killed at the hands of their current or ex-partners in England and Wales and one in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their life. Women and children’s lives depend on the Government seizing this opportunity and making the Bill the best it can be. What’s in the Bill?  A statutory definition of domestic abuse:  For the first time, there will be a statutory definition of domestic abuse, which also includes economic abuse. Recent research by Refuge and the Co-operative Bank showed that around 16% of all UK adults have identified as having experienced this form of abuse in a current of former relationship - but this same research showed that the numbers may in fact be higher as more than twice this number describe experiences which are economically abusive. Changes to the experiences of survivors in court: The Bill will also prohibit abusers cross-examining survivors in the family courts – something that Refuge, along with our colleagues in the VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) sector, has been campaigning for for many years. A legal duty to support survivors:  Most significantly, the Bill will include a legal duty on local authorities to assess need for and commission refuge services. This legal duty could safeguard the existence of refuges, but without sustainable and ring-fenced funding, which ensures there are enough refuge spaces to meet demand, the future of refuges is insecure and unsustainable. While the Government itself estimates domestic abuse to cost society £66 billion a year, and despite the fact that investing in specialist domestic abuse services has been shown to lead to long-term savings, over recent years Refuge has seen funding cuts to 80% of our services, with our refuge services cut by an average of 50%. Research suggests that around £173 million per year is needed to increase the number of refuge spaces available so that no woman or child is turned away. However, the Government disappointingly only committed to £125 million – falling far short of what is needed. Refuge hopes the government will reflect on this need and increase the amount of funding it has committed to, and ensure refuges are able to move away from the funding cliff-edge many find themselves on year after year. Only by securing this long term, sustainable funding, can refuges hire staff and plan for the longer term. What’s missing? There are still many essential measures missing from the Bill, and Refuge believes that in its current form, the Domestic Abuse Bill does not do enough to allow survivors to access the safety and support they need. Protection for image-based abuse:  Our key campaign ask for the next stage of the Bill is for the government to make a very small and swift legal change which will better protect the many thousands of women and girls that Refuge supports every day. Currently, while the sharing of intimate images or films without consent (also known as ‘revenge porn’’) is illegal, threatening to share them is not. Refuge’s specialist tech team identified these threats to share as being an issue faced by many survivors of domestic abuse. Refuge research found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced threats to share intimate images or videos - equivalent to 4.4 million. These threats are most prevalent amongst young people (aged 18-34), with 1 in 7 young women experiencing such threats. 72% of women who received these threats experienced the threat from a current of former partner - with 83% of this group also experiencing other forms of abuse, making this clearly a domestic abuse issue. The Bill gives the government a legislative vehicle by which to swiftly enact the change to the law that survivors need and Refuge is calling on the Government to do just that. Join our campaign and email the government about ending the naked threat here - it takes less than a minute. Changes to Universal Credit (UC):  Women are also at increased risk of economic abuse due to aspects of Universal Credit (UC). UC is paid as one monthly payment, into a single bank account – even if the payment is for a joint UC claim made by two individuals together. For survivors claiming Universal Credit with their abuser, this means that their perpetrator can gain complete control over the entire household income overnight. Survivors can request to split payments between themselves and the perpetrator, but this puts them at serious risk of further abuse, as perpetrators will always know the request has been made via their online account, or when the payment goes down. When making a new claim for UC, there is a minimum five-week delay between applying for and receiving payment. This leaves survivors who have fled abuse in extreme poverty while they await their first UC payment, having already left their homes with little money and few possessions. Refuge wants the Bill to include provision for making separate payments of Universal Credit by default, rather than women having to make a specific application and also for any advance payments (ordinarily given as loans) to women fleeing abusive partners to be given as grants, which do not need to be repaid. We need to ensure that women are able to safely flee abusive partners without added concerns about economic stability. A gendered definition:  Refuge also hopes that the government will ensure the Domestic Abuse Bill carries a true ‘gendered definition’ of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is, at its core, a gendered crime which stems from patriarchy, gender inequality and power and control over women. The overwhelming majority of victims of domestic abuse are women, while the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men. The definition of domestic abuse must be grounded in this reality so we are calling for the Government to amend the definition of domestic abuse in the Bill to do this. Protection for migrant survivors: The Bill also fails to protect migrant survivors. Large numbers of migrant women are not entitled to housing benefit because of their immigration status, and therefore unable to use this entitlement to financially support a stay in refuge. Many charities, including Refuge, do all they can to support migrant survivors, but a lack of funding sadly means too many women are left without support. We are calling for strengthened legislation which supports all women and children affected by domestic abuse – regardless of their immigration status. Women who have ‘no recourse to public funds’ must not be prevented from accessing the support that they need. It is vital that this is addressed via the Domestic Abuse Bill. Refuge wants the Domestic Abuse Bill to be truly transformative and ultimately to save women’s lives. In order to do this, we are calling for Threats to share intimate images being made a criminal offence Recognition of the reality of domestic abuse through a gendered definition of domestic abuse Women to be able to access the money they need to be as safe as possible in relationships and when they are ready to leave perpetrators by implementing separate Universal Credit payments by default and to exempt survivors of domestic abuse from repaying Universal Credit advances. These advances must be given as grants and not loans. Make this a Bill for all survivors, regardless of their immigration status by amending immigration law so that all migrant survivors can access financial support and other benefits, regardless of immigration status or visa type. Women with ‘no recourse to public funds’ must be able to access the specialist support they need. A commitment to ensure the legal duty to fund refuges provides adequate ring fenced and sustainable funding, to ensure that refuges can be placed on a secure financial footing, able to make longer term plans and ultimately increase the number of bed space available so that all women seeking safety and support can access it. This is crucial to ensure that refuges are able to move away from the funding cliff edge that many of them find themselves each financial year. Austerity cuts have decimated specialist services and this must be addressed via the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Refuge reassures survivors that they are not alone over the Christmas period
Refuge reassures survivors that they are not alone over the Christmas period

Ahead of the holiday period, Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at Refuge said: "Domestic abuse is the biggest social issue affecting women and children and has never been more of an issue than it is now, as COVID-19 restrictions have forced women and children to stay at home with their abusers. With a locked-down Christmas fast approaching, the end of 2020 will be a very challenging time for women and children experiencing domestic abuse across the country. Refuge wants every woman experiencing abuse this Christmas to know – if you need help, you are not alone. Call our Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247, any time of day or night, to speak to one of our highly trained female Helpline advisors who can provide you with emotional support and information on your rights and options. Alternatively, visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to use our webform to request a safe time to be called back or access our live chat service, Mon-Fri, 3pm-10pm. Our message is clear, Refuge is here twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You are not alone."

Year End Statement from Hetti Barkworth-Nanton
Year End Statement from Hetti Barkworth-Nanton

This year has been my first as Chair of Refuge and what a profound year it has been! We know that lockdown has significantly increased the instances of domestic abuse and it has been even more important that women and children have confidence that help is available when they need it. Our work is not possible without the continued efforts of our partner organisations – all other domestic abuse specialist services, the police, social services, GPs, hospitals, the Home Office and local government, and the general public. Without teamwork we could not identify, protect and support those suffering abuse, and for that reason I would like to express thanks to you all. It’s been a year where we’ve also seen the progress of important national legislation on domestic abuse and I am proud Refuge’s voice has been heard alongside many others, with survivor lead experiences guiding our law makers. There is much more work to do, but I am pleased that this crucial issue is now part of the national conversation. Last but by no means least I want to pay tribute to each and every member of staff and volunteer at Refuge, all of whom have stepped up in these terrible and challenging times. I would like to send many thanks to our Refuge patrons and ambassadors, donors, corporate partners, and of course the wonderful Trustees I work alongside - without whom so much of our work would not be possible. It has been wonderful to see your commitment to our work. I am confident that better times are ahead for us, as the vaccine offers hope of a return to normal life soon. But I am determined to make sure that we learn lessons from how we worked during lockdown and we ensure, together, that we are able to help even more people into a better life in 2021.

Refuge responds to news that the Domestic Abuse Bill is set to return to House of Lords on 5th January
Refuge responds to news that the Domestic Abuse Bill is set to return to House of Lords on 5th January

Refuge responds to news that the Domestic Abuse Bill is set to return to House of Lords on 5th January Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Refuge Chair, said: “Refuge is delighted to see the Domestic Abuse Bill scheduled to return to the House of Lords for its second reading on the 5th January. This legislation has been many years in the making and we are pleased to see it commence the final stages of the process to become law.  It has the potential to be truly transformational. However, Refuge believes there are still vital changes that need to be made to strengthen the Bill so that it transforms the response to domestic abuse in this country. The news just this morning shows that migrant women in particular are in need of much greater support to ensure they are able to report domestic abuse to the police without fear and seek specialist support. The work of colleagues across the sector pulls into sharp focus the need to ensure women with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) are better protected. The Domestic Abuse Bill is the perfect vehicle for the government to not only make the changes recommended in the police report published today, but to also abolish the 'no recourse' rule and ensure all survivors, including migrant women, can access vital, life-saving support. Refuge also hopes the Domestic Abuse Bill will change the law and make threatening to share intimate images a crime. Our 'The Naked Threat' campaign calls on the Government to do just that and has cross party support across the House of Lords. This simple legislative change would mean that women who receive these threats are able to report them with confidence that the law is on their side. Refuge hopes the government will start 2021 as it means to go on -  prioritising better protecting women and girls - and the Domestic Abuse Bill is the perfect vehicle to cement that commitment, by ensuring it is as bold and transformative as it has the potential to be. Women's lives depend on it and we look forward to working with the Government to ensure the Bill has a swift and robust passage into law.” ENDS Notes: Interviews available on request with Refuge spokespeople and domestic abuse survivors (who require anonymity and must be interviewed remotely).  Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has a Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk. About Refuge Refuge opened the world’s first refuge in Chiswick, West London, in 1971. Since then, it has grown to become the country’s largest single provider of specialist support to women and children escaping domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. On any given day, Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children. Refuge’s national network of specialist services includes safe emergency accommodation through refuges in secret locations across the country; community-based outreach services; culturally specific services for women from South Asian, African and Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Vietnamese backgrounds; a modern slavery service; independent advocacy services for women at the highest risk of serious injury and homicide; a range of single point of access services for women, children and men across entire regions; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline. Refuge also runs award-winning public awareness campaigns, advises Government and was voted ‘Charity of the Year’ 2016 at The Charity Times Awards. For more information, please visit www.refuge.org.uk or follow Refuge’s work on www.facebook.com/RefugeCharity and Twitter @RefugeCharity  

Refuge launches ‘Background of Support’ campaign, featuring charity patron Olivia Colman, as huge numbers continue to experience domestic abuse 
Refuge launches ‘Background of Support’ campaign, featuring charity patron Olivia Colman, as huge numbers continue to experience domestic abuse 

Today 15th December, Refuge launches a donation-drive to help raise funds for women and children who are suffering from domestic abuse, by harnessing an overlooked media space – video conferencing backdrops. Domestic abuse is the biggest social issue affecting women and children and has never been more of an issue than it is now, as COVID-19 restrictions have forced women and children to stay at home with their abusers. With new lockdown restrictions in place, and Christmas fast approaching, the end of 2020 is forecast to be very challenging for women and children experiencing domestic abuse across the country. Now more than ever, Refuge needs to reach survivors on a bigger scale, and must urgently generate the income needed to keep its services running. This new fundraising campaign, created by BBH, launches with a simple yet powerful idea – to turn video conferencing backgrounds into donation spaces. With tens of millions of video calls happening each and every day, Refuge has harnessed this overlooked media channel to increase support for those who need it most. The ‘Background of Support’ can be downloaded by anyone and used as a background on their video calls, to show support for Refuge. It features a powerful statistic on the number of women who experience abuse every year, in relation to the minutes spent on video calls, and a built-in QR that prompts viewers to support Refuge and help raise funds at this critical time. By turning this overlooked media space into a donation driving mechanism, Refuge is mobilising a network of supporters, helping to raise much needed funds for women and children suffering domestic abuse this winter. The campaign launches with a film featuring Oscar-winner and Refuge patron, Olivia Colman, CBE, along with Refuge supporters, who explain the new fundraising feature and how the public can get involved. By using a combination of celebrities and supporters, the film reinforces the message that domestic abuse can happen to women from all walks of life. It also demonstrates the huge potential for this simple background change to go viral. Lisa King, Director of Communications at Refuge says: “Up and down the country, women and children are experiencing domestic abuse in their thousands. They are trapped with their abusers, cut off from support and isolated. With one in four women experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime and a shocking two women being killed every week by a current or former partner in England and Wales, statistics that even predate COVID-19, never before has raising awareness of domestic abuse and the life-saving support Refuge offers been more necessary. “We hope that, as we reach the end of the year, people will show their festive spirit and support this simple action by lending ‘the background of support’ to their video calls. Taking this simple action will raise both awareness and vital funds. It’s a powerful idea but that will change lives and will help us keep the doors to our services open into the new year.” Alongside the film, the background asset will also be visible in prominent OOH sites across the country, in which more people can simply raise their phone to the QR code and donate to Refuge. Donate or download the background here. - ENDS - Notes to editors Refuge Refuge media office Tel: 0207 395 7731 Email: press@refuge.org.uk For more information, please visit www.refuge.org.uk or follow Refuge’s work on www.facebook.com/RefugeCharity and Twitter @RefugeCharity Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day,  call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.

Refuge supporters unite to raise awareness of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline during 16 days of activism against gender violence
Refuge supporters unite to raise awareness of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline during 16 days of activism against gender violence

During 16 days of activism against gender violence, which runs from the 25 November to Human Rights Day on the 10 December, Refuge has worked with supporters and partners to raise life-saving awareness of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline and live chat. Highlights include a new awareness video supported by Google, featuring celebrities from sectors as diverse as sports, music and activism, and an animated information video about the Helpline which was shared by supporters. Refuge has also announced that 33 new helpline live chat advisers joined the service this week. Lisa King, Director of Communications and External Relations at Refuge said that the awareness raising was only made possible through the dedication of front line staff: “As 16 days of activism comes to a close, on Human Rights Day, Refuge is celebrating the incredible work of its Helpline staff and volunteers, who together ensure our life-saving and life-changing Helpline is able to support the women and children who need us round the clock. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year our expert staff support women who are experiencing abuse, as well as their concerned family and friends. The Covid-19 crisis saw our Helpline workers respond to more calls and contacts than ever - helping women and children find safety, and get the information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. With the pandemic and lockdown minimising the opportunities for women to pick up the phone Refuge moved quickly to digitise the Helpline service, to make sure women could access the support they need it; in secret, in safety and in real time. In May, we launched our new ‘live chat’ service, and since then, our trained staff have had more than 2,000 live chat conversations with women experiencing domestic abuse or concerned family / friends. To meet this demand and support yet more women in crisis, this week we have had 33 new ‘live chatters’ start work, meaning 33 more expertly trained women are able to offer support and information to abused women when they need us. We’ve been able to speak to women in their homes during lockdown, while they are at work on a lunchbreak, while they are on the bus home. We want every woman experiencing abuse today to know - if you need help, you are not alone, Refuge is here for you.” If you need to access support, please contact Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline (freephone) on 0808 2000 247. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a web form and request a safe time to be contacted, or to access live chat facility between the hours of 3-10pm Monday-Friday. ENDS For more information contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day, call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.

Refuge responds to Government announcement on call for evidence on tackling violence against women and girls
Refuge responds to Government announcement on call for evidence on tackling violence against women and girls

Refuge, the country's largest single provider of specialist violence against women and girls service, responds to the Government's announcement on call for evidence on tackling violence against women and girls. Carole Easton, interim CEO at Refuge said: "Refuge is pleased to see the government marking Human Rights Day with an announcement about violence against women and girls (VAWG) – the most pressing issue facing women and girls around the world. Refuge welcomes this call for evidence on tackling VAWG, and will be submitting to this important review. 'However, Refuge considers the best and most effective way to tackle and indeed end VAWG is through a comprehensive strategy that understands all forms of violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse, as a continuum of gender based violence and abuse. Separating the VAWG strategy from the domestic abuse strategy could be a step back and Refuge would welcome further clarity from the Government on how it intends the two strategies to relate to each other, specifically how domestic abuse will continue to be dealt with as part of the overall strategy to end VAWG. We look forward to formally providing the government with our evidence on what is needed to challenge and eliminate Violence against Women and Girls, and ensure the most impactful solutions are prioritised which best protect and support survivors." The call for evidence is open from 10 December 2020 until 19 February 2021. ENDS For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day,  call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.

Google home page – for first time -  links directly to Refuge’s  National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Google home page – for first time -  links directly to Refuge’s  National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Google home page – for first time -  links directly to Refuge’s  National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which provides gateway to services for women and children experiencing domestic abuse. For the first time, the Google home page today, 8 December, carries a link which links directly to www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk , run by Refuge. This continues Google's support of Refuge's work during 16 days and follows the launch of the powerful #ISeeYou campaign, supported by Google, which was launched on International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls. #ISeeYou, featuring talent and advocates, was designed to reach victims, survivors and their families, during the annual ’16 days of activism’, and to serve as a call out to let them know they are not alone. Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at Refuge said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to Google for this show of support. More than 1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and 2 women a week are killed in England and Wales by a current or former partner. Domestic abuse is a social pandemic in this country and we need as many women as possible to know that support is available, and how to access it. Being able to link to Refuge's life-saving services from Google's home page has the potential to save lives and change lives. This is an incredible gesture and one which will help us send a very powerful message to women and girls - you are not alone,  support is available, and Refuge sees you, hears you and believes you.  During 16 days of activism Refuge channels have been shining a light of its national Helpline, raising awareness of both the 24/7 number and live chat services, whilst celebrating the work of its staff and volunteers who have answered more calls than ever during the Covid-19 crisis. Given the window to call for help has narrowed yet more due to being locked in, the support of Google, a huge online presence which will help to drive people to our digital support, at a time when so much of our lives is lived online, helps ensure as many women as possible know how to access the vital support Refuge provides online too.’ ENDS For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day,  call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.

Campaign calls for reform to tackle long-term financial impact of economic abuse on survivors
Campaign calls for reform to tackle long-term financial impact of economic abuse on survivors

Campaign calls for reform to tackle long-term financial impact of economic abuse on survivors One in five survivors (21%) left unable to repay debt and 26% have a negatively impacted credit rating Survivors of economic abuse in debt will owe £3,272 on average – however one in four have debts in excess of £5,000 The Co-operative Bank and Refuge’s “Know Economic Abuse” report calls for credit reference reform to avoid financial exclusion of economic abuse survivors Experian announce they are working closely with the campaign to improve access to credit reports, training and Victims of Fraud support to address the long-term burden on survivors A large proportion of personal debt in the UK could be the direct result of economic abuse, according to a recent report by The Co-operative Bank and Refuge, the UK’s largest national domestic abuse charity. On average, a survivor of domestic abuse who was left in debt will be indebted to the tune of £3,272 as a direct result of economic abuse perpetrated by a current or former partner. One in four will have debts in excess of £5,000 (24%). On average, women survivors of economic abuse were in significantly more debt than men survivors, with an average debt of £3,818 compared to £2,926. This means that approximately £14.4 billion in the UK can be attributed to some form of economic abuse. The “Know Economic Abuse” campaign aims to raise awareness of the true scale of economic abuse in the UK. Economic abuse – sometimes called financial abuse – occurs when someone attempts to control another’s ability to acquire, maintain access to, or use money or other economic resources on a sustained basis. The study, previously conducted in 2015, expanded its research this year to look at the long-term financial impact of economic abuse on survivors. The campaign has now partnered with leading credit reference agency Experian to raise awareness of financial coercion in the context of domestic abuse. Experian will work closely with the campaign with the aim of improving the process for survivors to inform lenders that debt was caused by economic abuse and aid lenders in reducing the long-term debt burden on survivors. This includes plans to improve access to credit reports, training and Victims of Fraud support to help clear of the financial mess left behind by an abusive partner. How does economic abuse lead to long-term debt? 57% of those who had experienced economic abuse said that they were in or had been in debt as a result – this accounts for 4.7 million people. This debt can develop in a number of ways due to the actions of perpetrators. People who experience economic abuse often see their partners make significant financial decisions, without discussing it with them, such as buying a new home or purchasing a new car (13%). Perpetrators will often also put debts in a partner’s name under duress (11%) or even do so fraudulently without their consent or awareness (10%). In some cases, these debts come with particularly high interest rates attached to them, such as ‘payday’ loans (9%) or overdrafts (9%). While many people are aware of the illegality of an abuser opening accounts in their partner’s  name without knowledge or consent , Experian has also clarified that in instances in which a survivor was coerced into opening an account, this can also be disputed as fraudulent. Impact of long-term debt One in four survivors find themselves struggling financially as a result of economic abuse (27%) and 21% will face debts that they are unable to repay. This was even higher for survivors who first experienced economic abuse during the Coronavirus pandemic, with 32% saying that they were struggling with debt and 31% saying that they could not afford basic living costs. In 40% of cases, it will take a survivor years to pay off the debt, if they are able to at all. One in four survivors (26%) will end up with a negatively impacted credit rating as a result of economic abuse. This significantly impairs their ability to gain economic stability and make financial choices; in some cases it can create barriers for survivors who wanted to leave their abusive partner and live independently. For example, 45% said they had been unable to get a credit card and 32% said that they had only been able to access a credit card with a high interest rate. 30% said they had been unable to get a personal loan due to the impact of economic abuse on their credit rating. Almost a quarter had been unable to buy a home as a consequence of their damaged credit rating. Maria Cearns, managing director, People & Customer, The Co-operative Bank, comments: “Something we have learned in our ongoing interactions with vulnerable customers who have suffered some form of economic abuse, is that the ramifications of abuse can continue to have a profound impact on someone’s financial wellbeing for years to come. It was a stark realisation for us that some of the survivors we polled five years ago as part of our original study would still be subject to long-term debt, damaged credit ratings and limited access to financial products and services, due to circumstances that were completely outside of their own control. Our findings have shown that long-term debt accrued as a result of economic abuse is significant and we will work diligently with Refuge and Experian on this.” Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at Refuge, says: “Economic abuse is a huge issue facing women across the country and, as our report shows, can leave women struggling with debt for many years, with their ability to leave their abusive partner affected. “The long term impacts of debt as a result of economic abuse should not be ignored - and action needs to be taken to ensure women are able to rebuild their financial stability and gain economic independence following abuse. “Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence and our report should be a wake-up call that action must be taken to address all forms of domestic abuse -  there are simple steps that the banking and financial industry can take which will better protect women and we hope they will seize this opportunity to make the necessary changes.” John Webb, consumer affairs executive at Experian, comments: “Survivors of economic abuse who have had accounts opened fraudulently, can suffer long-term financial consequences. Experian’s Victims of Fraud Team can help victims dispute these accounts with all lenders, on their behalf. “Survivors of economic abuse may have fraudulent accounts opened in their name, without their knowledge or permission. However, victims of economic abuse can also be coerced (forced) to open accounts, which can also be disputed as fraudulent. “It’s important that survivors of economic abuse can clear up their credit reports, by removing fraudulent accounts, in order to access financial services as they rebuild their lives. Experian can help people dispute any fraudulent accounts with lenders directly, helping to clear up the record for victims of economic abuse.” To view the full research report from Refuge and The Co-operative Bank visit: Click here Spokespeople are available for comment and interviews. Case studies are also available on request.   - ENDS - Notes to editors Recommendations from the Know Economic Abuse report Along with the publication of its report, which fully details the study’s methodology and findings, the Co-operative Bank and Refuge have built on the Code of Practice that was implemented in 2018 to develop a five-point plan of action to  further address the issue of economic abuse. A number of these recommendations refer directly to action needed to tackle the issue of long-term debt: 1.       Banks and other financial services institutions to build on the support they offer to survivors of economic abuse by: a.    The creation of clear processes for customers who are in debt as a result of economic abuse to inform the bank of their circumstances, be supported by well-trained staff and have that debt burden reduced wherever possible b.    The provision of information about economic abuse and where customers can seek help when customers apply for any joint financial product 2.       Credit reference agencies to take a greater role, protecting survivors of economic abuse through the creation of a preferential ‘credit rating repair’ system. This would then be implemented by both banks and credit reference agencies 3.       The creation of a cross-government fund for survivors to assist them with the costs of leaving a perpetrator and accessing a safe place to stay 4.       Reform of welfare benefits systems to benefit survivors and current victims of economic abuse. This should include a.    Automatic separate payments of Universal Credit b.    Universal Credit advances for those fleeing abusive partners, paid as grants rather than loans 5.       Banks, other financial services institutions, and specialist domestic abuse organisations to conduct a review of the impact of online and digital banking on survivors of economic abuse and produce recommendations for change in 2021 The Know Economic Abuse report has been made up of two elements; a nationally representative survey among 4,009 adults in the UK, conducted by Opinium between 03 and 07 February 2020, and qualitative research interviews undertaken with 14 survivors of intimate partner violence whom had accessed Refuge’s specialist services. As the results of the first survey were being analysed the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. We commissioned a second nationally representative survey, again carried out by Opinium. This survey repeated the key questions from the first survey on experience of economic abuse, including when the abuse started and whether any help was sought. This second survey contained additional options related to the Covid-19 pandemic, including whether economic abuse started when the survivor lost their job, saw their income reduce or were furloughed due to Covid-19. This second survey was conducted in June 2020 and was completed by 4,008 adults in the UK Media Contacts Nicki Parry The Co-operative Bank Tel: 0161 201 1590 Email: nicki.parry@co-operativebank.co.uk Lewis Wilks Lansons Tel: 0790 3260 560 Email: lewisw@lansons.com Refuge Refuge media office Tel: 0207 395 7731 Email: press@refuge.org.uk The Co-operative Bank The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement. The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in January 2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning About Refuge Refuge opened the world’s first refuge in Chiswick, West London, in 1971. Since then it has grown to become the country’s largest single provider of specialist support to women and children escaping domestic abuse and other forms of gender based violence. On any given day, Refuge supports more than 6,500 women and children. Refuge’s national network of specialist services include: safe emergency accommodation through refuges in secret locations across the country; community-based outreach services; culturally specific services for women from South Asian, African and Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Vietnamese backgrounds; a modern slavery service; independent advocacy services for women at the highest risk of serious injury and homicide; a range of single point of access services for women, children and men across entire regions; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline. Refuge also runs award-winning public awareness campaigns, advises Governments and was voted ‘Charity of the Year’ 2016 at The Charity Times Awards. For more information, please visit www.refuge.org.uk or follow Refuge’s work on www.facebook.com/RefugeCharity and Twitter @RefugeCharity Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day,  call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.

Refuge launches National Domestic Abuse Helpline digital animation #16Days
Refuge launches National Domestic Abuse Helpline digital animation #16Days

Refuge launches digital animation on what to expect when calling its National Domestic Abuse Helpline as part of the UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence Today, during the UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, Refuge launches a new digital animation to reach abused women who may need to access support from its National Domestic Abuse Helpline. The animation forms part of Refuge’s ongoing campaign to share the Helpline number and live chat resources with as many women as possible.  As we live through a second lockdown, more women than ever are experiencing domestic abuse and are isolated and alone with their perpetrators for long periods of time. Right now their need for support may be greater than ever.   Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline is free of charge and runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It is a confidential and non-judgmental service, run by a close-knit team of highly trained women. Helpline advisers will never tell a woman what to do, but will give her space to talk about what is happening to her, provide her with emotional support and information on her rights and options. The expert team will help her access other services, like legal advice and support, counselling and mental health support, and housing options such as refuge accommodation.   The carefully created warm, engaging and reassuring animation gives information on the different ways to get in touch with the Helpline, providing critical information for women whose safe window for making contact may have narrowed due to lockdown. If it is not safe to speak, women may wish to use our newly-extended live chat service, which operates online via www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk from Monday to Friday, 3-10pm. Refuge knows that making contact can feel daunting for women, it may be the first time they’ve ever spoken to someone about what is happening to them. It is important for them to feel as comfortable as possible when reaching out for help, which is why the Helpline offers an  interpretation service so women can speak to advisers in their own language.   Lisa King, Director of Communications and External Relations at Refuge said: "The latest statistics from ONS showed that 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse last year alone, and we know that reports of domestic abuse increased significantly during the first lockdown. We want all women to know that domestic abuse services, including the Helpline, are still available and waiting to hear from them. The Helpline is for all women, whether they are still in a relationship with their perpetrator, thinking about leaving, or are worried about a loved one. No matter how big or small their question is, whatever their age, background, beliefs or experience, the Helpline is ready and waiting to hear from them. We hope that people will watch and share our animation far and wide – to do so will save lives.”   If you need to access support, please contact Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline (freephone) on 0808 2000 247. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a web form and request a safe time to be contacted, or to access live chat facility between the hours of 3-10pm Monday-Friday.   ENDS Animation link: https://youtu.be/HXN-hw2WV0o For more information contact the press office on  0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day,  call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.

Refuge launch #iSeeYou, a video campaign supported by Google UK
Refuge launch #iSeeYou, a video campaign supported by Google UK

To reach women experiencing domestic abuse during Lockdown 2 and mark the International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, which starts the annual ‘16 days of activism’, Refuge, has launched #iSeeYou, a video campaign supported by Google UK. Right now hundreds of thousands of women are trapped at home with their abusive partners in lockdown conditions. Living in fear day in day out, unable to access support. For most women experiencing domestic abuse this won’t have been their first lockdown - they will have spent years isolated and trapped with abuse escalating over time. This campaign is a call out to let them know that they are not alone and Refuge is there to support them – every hour of every day. Google and Refuge worked together to create the #ISeeYou campaign following reports of a surge in demand during lockdown one earlier this year. By developing an organic social media campaign, led by talent and advocates, Refuge hopes to reach thousands more victims, survivors, and their families. The video features, among others, Denise Lewis OBE, Malin Andersson and Alex Winter, who have lent their support, voice and time free of charge to take part in this vital campaign. With two women being killed every week by a current and former partner in England and Wales, with deaths escalating during the pandemic, this campaign has the power to save lives. Lockdown has meant restrictions on movement - the window to call for help, ordinarily very limited, has been reduced yet more. This campaign couldn’t be more urgent. Since the first set of lockdown restrictions, Refuge launched a ‘live chat’ service, which gives women who are too afraid to pick up the phone a way to access support online with specialist Helpline staff. When so much of our lives are lived online it’s crucial that the Helpline is both promoted, and accessible to women without compromising their safety. Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at Refuge said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to Google for lending us their support. We know only too well at Refuge how crucial it is that women know how to access help – particularly during lockdown when their options might feel more limited. We want every woman experiencing domestic abuse to know that Refuge is here for them every moment of every day – our services are open and they are safe. A call to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline or connecting via livechat could be the start of a new beginning for many women – the start of a journey to safety. This video, and the talent who have given their time, is a powerful way to reach women and share our services.’ Denise Lewis OBE, who features in the #ISeeYou campaign video said: ‘I am delighted to support this important campaign and use my voice to help amplify Refuge’s message. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime and it’s more important than ever that we ensure Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline number – 0808 2000 247 - is as visible as possible. This number, and the team of trained experts who answer calls, can change lives and save lives. Please reach out to Refuge if you ever need help or support.’ Johanna Yaovi, marketing programme manager at Google said: ‘We are extremely proud to have supported Refuge in the creation of the #ISeeYou campaign, using our network to involve inspiring talents and promoting the initiative on some of our owned channels. During these uncertain times it is essential for everyone to have access to available resources, especially considering the surge in cases of domestic abuse since the start of the COVID crisis.’ The #ISeeYou video will launch on 25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and will be featured on Refuge’s owned and operated channels. Any woman who needs support should call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 – free, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat (available between 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday) or to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted. Refuge want women to know #ISeeYou and are there to support you. You are not alone. ENDS For more information contact the press office on  0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk Watch the video here. Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day,  call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.

Refuge response to funding boost for rape and domestic abuse services
Refuge response to funding boost for rape and domestic abuse services

In response to the government’s announcement of a funding boost for rape and domestic abuse support services, Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at Refuge said: ‘Refuge welcomes this new funding pot for rape and domestic abuse services. The Covid-19 crisis has amplified what we already know -  that funds are urgently needed to ensure vital frontline services are able to plan ahead. The pandemic has had a huge impact on survivors – from being kept waiting for Universal Credit payments, to experiencing difficulty in obtaining ‘move on’ accommodation, and the rise in demand for Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline. Of course this new funding is welcome, but it isn’t the long term solution so desperately needed. Specialist domestic abuse services have already been decimated as a result of austerity cuts. Short term funding means we are unable to recruit staff and longer term planning to meet the needs of survivors  is impossible. Long term, sustainable funding which allows frontline services to plan, hire staff and move away from the funding cliff edges is what is needed -  this is the only way to ensure no woman or child is turned away from accessing the support they need.  Specialist services need stability, not uncertainty, and the way to resolve that is with long term funding, rather than short term fixes. Refuge also welcomes the government’s commitment to raising awareness of domestic abuse via its #YouAreNotAlone campaign, but urges a focus on promoting Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline as a priority.  Refuge’s Helpline is a lifeline to abused women and gives 24 hour access to specialist support services across the country. Priority should be placed on promoting 0808 2000 247 and live chat support via www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk Monday-Friday 3-10pm. Women’s lives depend on it.’ ENDS For more information contact the press office on  0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk Refuge encourages all media outlets to signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, for free and confidential support, 24 hours a day,  call 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to access live chat.