Calls and messages to Domestic Violence support services are growing rapidly now that Lockdown is being loosened, and women are finding the space to call safely. Manchester Women’s Aid have seen increases in enquiries about refuge spaces since April compared with figures from last year. May has seen a huge 70% increase in enquiries compared to last year.
In May 2020, as part of the We Love MCR Charity Covid-19 Community Response Fund, We Love MCR Charity (WLMC) approved a package of grants totalling £61,650 to local charities dealing with Domestic Violence & Vulnerable Children. One of these grants was to Manchester Women’s Aid (MWA). This vital grant was to enable them to move 8 families from their refuge places and into their own new, safe accommodation, so that they can start their new lives. This would create 8 urgently needed new refuge spaces that women and families can flee to, away from the violence faced at home.
Now 4 weeks since the £8000 grant was awarded, Gail Heath from MWA has an uplifting update on the work done so far, which goes far above and beyond what was first expected:
“Things are going really well, we are actually exceeding expectations – we are helping more than 8 people to move on. 10 families have moved out and 10 families have moved into refuge spaces already, so more families are now safe from DV. We are likely to be able to support another 7 families who are ready to move out in the next few weeks, and therefore 7 more families will move into Refuge, making them safer.
“The We Love MCR grant gave us the assurance and certainty we needed to help clients. It has enabled us to provide more than just the basics, helping us to provide families with the best start possible for their new lives.
One family said: ‘You’ve done us proud’
One family said on moving into their new home: ‘It is such relief, we can breathe again’
One of the families we have moved has been in Refuge for 6 weeks, another for 18 months, so the money is really helping people move forward with their lives.”
MWA and WLMC created the video below featuring Gail Heath, CEO of MWA, speaking about the stark realities of domestic violence particularly during lockdown, and how the WLMC grant will save lives by removing at-risk women and children from dangerous situations. By helping people already living in refuge to move into their own new homes, MWA can make sure there are spaces available in Refuges for families in need.
Gail gave some emotional examples of the work the grant has allowed them to do:
Case Study 1: “You’ll see on one of the photos below a birthday balloon and gifts – that was from a family who had been in refuge for more than 18 months. The little girl had her last birthday in refuge, so couldn’t have friends round or anything to celebrate. It was her birthday again a couple of days after the family moved into their new home but she couldn’t have friends over due to Covid. Having provided the essentials to get them set up, we were fortunate to source some additional donations from The River Charity [another org WLMC have funded] and our volunteers dropped off some toys and balloons so she could celebrate with her family in their new home! I hear she was really enjoying getting her new bedroom set up!”
Case Study 2: “We have supported a young mother who had a premature baby at 27 weeks (and has 2 other children at home), to find and move into a property near the hospital. The baby is still in hospital and she is now in walking distance to be able to visit (she was getting two buses from the refuge before). With the WLMC grant we were able to get the ball rolling much quickier and get her somewhere and her children settled. It was really important to her that she had her own space to bring the baby home to. She now has a home for when the baby is ready to come home.”
WLMC’s Grants Officer, Marie O’Neill-Steinegger, also works part-time as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor:
“Refuge spaces are vital to enable women and children to flee quickly to somewhere safe when they need it most. The funding from WLMC is not only supporting families to move into refuge in their time of need, but also helps others move out to start their new lives, free from abuse. Working on the frontline with high risk victims of domestic violence, I can see the difference this funding is making – it really is saving lives”
For the update, MWA created a montage of photos showing some of the work involved in moving a family out of refuge. Here are a few pictures:
The WLMC Covid-19 Community Response Fund over the 13 weeks since it launched has now awarded £770,000 in grants, to 231 frontline Manchester community groups and charities.
The Fund is now almost exhausted and will run out soon.
If you can afford to, donations can be made at the We Love Manchester Charity website www.welovemcrcharity.org , or at this Just Giving page:
You can text MANCHESTER 10 to 70470 to donate £10
Or to discuss how you can help, call We Love MCR Charity on 0161 459 9950.
MWA is Manchester’s largest specialist provider of domestic abuse services.
Advice and support for victims of domestic violence is a available here: Manchester Womens Aid (0161 660 7999, Mon – Fri 9:30 – 4:30), Independent choices (0161 636 7525 Mon – Fri 10 – 4pm), National Women’s Aid helpline (0808 200 247 Open 24/7). Email advice and support is available here advisory.service@manchester..gov.uk