Merseyside domestic abuse charities are warning of a crisis as incidents of violence increase during lockdown.

Earlier in the year three women in the region were murdered over one weekend in cases of domestic abuse.

The murder of Sarah Everard in London has sparked a wider discussion around violence against women and girls in the UK.

Over-stretched services during the pandemic

The Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service are in ongoing talks with local leaders about more funding being needed for specialist services.

The pandemic has damaged community-based charities, such as LDAS, and the charity warned of a funding crisis.

Their current waiting list has more than 240 women needing support.

LDAS provides counselling and group-based support and has seen a 145% increase in demand since March 2020.

Nationwide, domestic violence is on the rise and The Observer recently launched their #EndFemicide campaign.

118 women murdered in 12 months

Between International Women’s Day 2020 and the event in 2021 on the same date, 118 women were murdered in incidents of domestic violence.

The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership help the government to deliver its Serious Violence Strategy and are one of 18 violence reduction units in England and Wales.

They work with Merseyside Police and local authorities and have received £3.37m to tackle violence and homicide in Merseyside communities.

A spokesperson for the MVRP said: “We know violence against women and girls exists and needs to be tackled with a view to bringing about a lasting cultural effect.

“Given the shortfall in reporting these crimes, we also recognise that the data about violence against women and girls needs to be developed to better understand the landscape – and how to address it.”

The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership does not currently have a unit dedicated to domestic violence.

However, they are committed to working with the community to fund charities and projects.

MVRP spend roughly 20% of their overall programme expenditure on funding domestic abuse projects and charities.

They said: “Some projects, such as Red Umbrella, First Step Project, Safe2Speak and the SWAN Women’s Centre help to provide an immediate response and support to women who have experienced violence.

“Other programmes deliver on early intervention with a view to educating, such as our very successful Mentors in Violence Prevention programme run in conjunction with Merseyside Youth Association (in schools).”

Many of these projects have been funded during the pandemic as MVRP acknowledged the drastic increase in incidents of domestic violence.

Not enough funding to manage

Charities such as LDAS are desperate for more funding and have been promised it by the Ministry of Justice.

However, it is not clear yet how much they will receive and whether it will be enough to tackle the crisis.

Women’s Aid estimated £393m is required nationally.

However, Rishi Sunak promised only an extra £19m in the budget to tackle violence against women and girls.

Liverpool City Council are yet to confirm exact figures for local services but assured that they were working to secure as much funding as possible for domestic abuse provision.

In February, following the deaths of the three women in the region, Merseyside Police released a statement urging people not to suffer in silence.

ACC Ian Critchley said: “This year particularly has been challenging for everyone, but for victims of domestic abuse who are suffering from continued cruelty and violence it must be intolerable.

“For abusers it is easier for them to coerce or physically abuse their victims, who are probably feeling more isolated and alone.

“I want to appeal to family, friends and neighbours who strongly suspect that someone is being subjected to domestic abuse to tell us, or to urge their loved ones to make the right decision for their own safety and peace of mind.”

If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

If you ring 999 and are not in a safe position to speak to police then cough, or tap, the phone and press 55, when prompted. This will alert the operator that you need assistance and we will provide support.

National Domestic Violence helpline: 0808 200 0247 (24h)


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