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UCLan study shows more accessible domestic violence services are needed

UCLan report on domestic violence services in UK provided in connection with Covid-19 reveals that several groups – including black and ethnic minority groups and those in rural communities – are struggling to access services domestic violence


The research has highlighted how, during the pandemic, the UK domestic violence industry quickly turned to remote service delivery in order to meet growing and increasingly complex demands.

The report was led by UCLan and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19.

The report underscored the continued value of hybrid and face-to-face support services in reducing barriers to support for domestic violence, which many victims benefit from. However, remote services were not equally accessible to all.

In particular, research has highlighted an inadequate supply of support services for several groups, including those with complex needs, in rural communities, black and ethnic minority groups, male victims, older survivors and those with complex needs. children and young people victims of domestic violence.

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Gaps in domestic violence services during the pandemic have been attributed to a range of factors, including the closure of housing services, schools and courts, digital poverty, increased mental health needs and language barriers. More targeted funding, as well as more flexible and faster funding application processes, have been essential to address these gaps.

The study also identified a significant shift in thinking about rehousing perpetrators of domestic violence so that women and children can stay in the family home, and this approach is currently being tested in London.

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Research found that over the past year, public messages and media coverage have increased public and government awareness of domestic violence. However, the messages need to be consistent – victims of domestic violence were first swayed by the stay home message before the government changed its message. The researchers also recommended that resources be made public where possible, including at vaccination and testing centers.

The research follows a significant increase in demand for domestic violence services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Women’s Aid survey of June 2020 among providers found that out of 22 helplines, 90% experienced an increase in demand, with 81% of the 31 helplines also experiencing high levels of support. ‘calls.

Refuge, which operates a national domestic violence helpline in England, also saw a 22% increase in calls to its service in the year ending March 2021, compared to the previous year ( ONS, 2021a), with a 700% increase in the number of individuals. accessing their website between April and June 2020 (ONS, 2020).

This research was undertaken by the Connect Center for International Research on Interpersonal Violence and Harm at the University of Central Lancashire, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Edinburgh and in partnership with organizations addressing domestic violence.

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Professor Nicky Stanley, professor of social work at UCLan and lead author, said: “The pandemic has underscored the need for all sectors and services to contribute to the task of responding to domestic violence. The restrictions have sparked widespread thinking about the experience of being confined to an abusive environment, and this wider awareness has prompted many examples of innovative interventions from a wide range of organizations and groups. .

“However, domestic violence services are closely linked to other services and the closure of housing services and delays in the justice system have increased demands for domestic violence services and create blockages in shelters. Likewise, school closures have meant that many child victims of domestic violence have become invisible to services. All public services must take domestic violence into account in responding to the pandemic and other such crises. “

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