COVENTRY Safe to Talk domestic violence helpline has seen demand increase since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – receiving more than 1000 calls.
This week sees the city coming together to support #16DaysofAction against domestic violence, which runs from today (Wednesday November 25) to December 10. West Midlands Police has also reported a significant increase in domestic violence related calls as a consequence of Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Coventry City Council is keen to spread the message that Domestic Abuse is Everybody’s Business with some city centre landmarks, including the Whittle Arch and Broadgate, lit up orange in support of the campaign’s 2020 colour theme and employees encouraged to show support by wearing orange.
Elaine Yates, CEO for Coventry Haven Women’s Aid said: “We take the 16 Days of Action campaign very seriously as we’ve been delivering in the city for over 45 years. The Safe to Talk helpline provides advice, support and information to victims, children and perpetrators, with access to multi-lingual specialist workers. This makes it easier for individuals to access the services they need, offering support options in areas that are close to them.
“There is still a lot of work to do around domestic abuse in the city, and our consortia commits to working together in the long term to further develop services that are accessible to all.”
Earlier today (Wednesday November 25) on the first day of the campaign Coventry Haven, co-hosted a one hour drop in event on Zoom with Coventry University Students Union (CUSU) with keynote speaker Jaime Richards, Coventry Women’s Aid’s development and funding Officer, discussing what the 16 Days of Action are about, CUSU activities and a survivor’s story.
Coventry City Council and Coventry Domestic Abuse Services will mark the campaign by raising public awareness of the various forms of domestic abuse and support available in the city for anyone affected from Coventry Haven, Valley House, Panahghar and Relate. Other support includes a programme to jointly support children affected by domestic abuse using a counselling service to help re-establish parental relationships; and an 18-week perpetrator programme, called Choose2Change, to try and stop further abuse in the future.
Men and women subjected to domestic abuse in Coventry can call the Safe to Talk helpline on 0800 111 4998 for independent and confidential advice and support about domestic abuse or visit www.safetotalk.co.uk.
A citywide domestic abuse strategy has been running from 2018 to 2023 and influenced the way the commissioned services have been brought together. It also focuses on preventing honour-based violence and forced marriage.
#16DaysofAction is organised by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership. It’s message: Domestic Abuse is Everybody’s Business. The movement started in 1991 and since then 167 groups in 187 countries have contributed to promoting and supporting this international campaign including Amnesty International and World Health Organisation.
Coun Pervez Akhtar, deputy Cabinet member for policing and equalities, said: “We are very conscious of the reality of the impact that domestic abuse has on its victims and their families and the 16 Days of Action campaign is a great reminder of the clear strategy in place for Coventry, which aims to improve the response from all agencies to incidents of domestic abuse and remove barriers which prevent some communities from seeking help.
“It is estimated that the annual cost of domestic abuse collectively for Coventry is around £35m. The ongoing pandemic has made already challenging times, extra difficult for those living domestic abuse and we will continue to work with partner agencies to manage and address domestic abuse in a sensitive and supportive way. This includes providing support to those groups currently under-represented and most vulnerable – like older people, men, people from BAME communities and the LGBT community.”
“The Safe to Talk website enables easy access to help and support either as members of the public or professionals who may wish to refer individuals. All of us need to be vigilant. We need to help understand domestic abuse in all its forms and support victims to bring these crimes out into the open.”