Caroline has slammed the closure of refuge services for women fleeing domestic abuse across the UK.
Government cuts and continued lack of funding have led to the closure of specialist refuge services across the UK and slashed the number of bed spaces available.
Caroline is supporting the Women’s Aid campaign to save the services and today tabled an Early Day Motion on the issue (below).
Brighton and Hove domestic abuse services remain intact - and have recently expanded to incorporate a service specifically for men experiencing abuse.
However, Head of Development Jo Gough at Brighton and Hove charity RISE, says loss of refuge space nationally will impact locally: “RISE Refuges get between three and six referrals for every vacancy,” she said. “Though we have halved the time families can stay, the pressure for space hasn’t decreased. Loss of refuge space nationally of course has an impact on local families. Many of the children are under the age of five, if they have to stay in a dangerous and abusive situation, the damage just gets worse.”
Caroline said: “It’s absolutely vital that women fleeing an abusive situation have a safe and secure place to turn. To close what might well be the only place they can go, to cut them off from the support and advice they need, is out of the question. I will continue to do whatever I can to protect funding for services helping those that are subjected to gendered violence, improve the law so that individuals can be properly protected - and challenge some of the underlying causes of violence against women and girls.”
The crisis of closure of refuges across the UK is compounded by a range of government policies which campaigners say force women to remain in abusive situations. A combination of the introduction of universal credit, women being disproportionately hit by public sector job cuts, cuts to Legal Aid and rising female unemployment mean women who are experiencing abusive situations are less able to escape them.
Caroline’s Early Day Motion: That this House welcomes the launch of the Women’s Aid SOS Campaign - Save Our Services: save refuges, save lives; recognises that specialist domestic violence refuges are life-saving services; acknowledges this national network of services in England is facing a crisis due to funding cuts and poor local commissioning decisions; welcomes the aim of the SOS Campaign to protect the national network of specialist refuges and commit to exploring a new funding model for these services; acknowledges that a recent YouGov poll shows that 61% of the population think that the Government should do more to preserve the national network of specialist domestic violence refuges for women and children; and calls on Parliamentarians to support the campaign by meeting with their local specialist refuge, signing the SOS campaign petition and supporting the protection of funding for the national network of life-saving refuges.
You can find out more about the Women’s Aid campaign, including figures: SOS: Save Our Services: Save refuges, save lives, here
You can find out more about RISE in Brighton and Hove here