Largest Global Data Count reflects England’s own worrying position in refuge provision
Thu, 8th Mar 12
Today, on International Women’s Day, national charity Women’s Aid is joining the Global Network of Women’s Shelters to release the results of the ‘2011 Global Data Count’ alongside its own unique ‘Day to Count 2011’ and ‘2011 Annual Survey of Domestic Violence Services’, to help highlight the worrying situation for women and children experiencing domestic violence and the severe lack of and threat to local specialist provision.
Across the world, on just one day 56,308 women and 39,130 children sought refuge from domestic violence at women’s shelters around the world. Of these 3,410 women and 3,720 children were resident in a refuge in England.
Not everyone received help: worldwide, of those who found their way to contacting a local shelter, at least 7,608 women and 4,734 children were turned away. Women’s Aid’s ‘Day to Count’ in England showed that 320 of these women could not be accommodated in at least one of the refuges they approached, usually simply due to lack of space. Given the drastic cuts to specialist service provision that we are witnessing across the country, this number is highly likely to rise in 2012.
The Women’s Aid 2011 Annual Survey of Domestic Violence Services established that half of all specialist domestic violence services are currently negatively affected by funding cuts. This has resulted in a decrease in staffing levels, most significantly in children’s worker roles, leading to over three hundred women being turned away from refuges every day.
One specialist domestic violence service manager in northern England stated:
"Our funding is in a sorry state. We have just enough to take us to the end of March 2012….we really don't know if we will be able to carry on."
Another refuge and support worker in East Midlands stated:
"Our floating support service is facing cuts of 11% to 15%... at another site the floating support and refuge are both under threat: our contract runs out in September 2012….it all seems to be down to cost and less about high quality services to those experiencing DV. Our past success and reputation will have little influence I fear!"
A large provider of domestic violence support to BME families in one Northern city informed us:
"We are being asked to do more for less, our overall Supporting People budget has been cut by nearly 30%, but we are now expected to provide more services than we were before."
These concerns were echoed many times over across the country and reflect the findings of the impact of cuts in public expenditure report commissioned by the Trust for London and Northern Rock Foundation and released at Women’s Aid’s AGM on 1st February this year.
In feedback captured by Women’s Aid in it’s ‘You can’t beat a woman’ campaign work, one survivor of domestic violence shared her positive experience of being able to escape to a refuge in the North East noting:
“…I can’t describe my feeling of relief as I entered the refuge – the feeling of safety.”
Another survivor noted:
"[After years of abuse] I entered a Women’s Aid refuge … As well as being beaten and mentally frightened, I had been raped and abused sexually …I owe Women’s Aid my life."
The numbers of specialist women’s refuges closing their doors is alarming. In the long-term such a loss is not worth any short lived financial savings. Women’s Aid fears that the ongoing erosion of specialist services not only has future financial implications, but will impact on families and potentially cost lives.
The Women’s Aid survey found that between April 1st 2010 to March 31st 2011 member services helped 137,160 women and 43,280 children through refuge, outreach and other non-refuge-based services. This is just the tip of iceberg and does not include Women’s Aid online support or callers to the 24hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge.
Nicola Harwin, CBE, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said:
“For nearly 40 years Women’s Aid has protected millions of women and children across the country and we have never been more concerned about the future of refuge provision. Our unique annual survey, compiled with the assistance of all of our members across the country, highlights that at least 320 women and their children are turned away from a refuge every day, and this situation is likely only to worsen as massive cuts to local authority budgets are disproportionately targeting and decimating our local domestic violence support services. We are urging all local authorities to thoroughly consider the damaging effects of withdrawing specialist domestic and sexual violence services.”
Just like Women’s Aid’s exclusive ‘Day to Count’ survey, the 2011 Global Data Count is a unique snapshot of one day in the lives of women seeking refuge at women’s shelters. It is the third census conducted by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters. It represents information provided by 2,636 participating shelters and 25 shelter networks from 36 countries.
The Global Data Count shows that violence against women is an international issue that demands ongoing commitment to eradicate in all its forms from every country across the world. To download the full Global Data Count report go to http://www.gnws.org/.
Notes to Editors
1. Information about Women’s Aid
Women's Aid is the national charity that co-ordinates and supports an England-wide network of over 500 local services working to end domestic and sexual violence against women and children. Keeping the voices of survivors at the heart of its work, Women's Aid campaigns for better legal protection and services, providing a strategic "expert view" to government on laws, policy and practice affecting abused women and children. In partnership with its national network, Women's Aid runs public awareness and education campaigns, bringing together national and local action, and developing new training and resources. Women's Aid provides a package of vital 24 hour lifeline services through its publications (available in 11 languages including English), websites (www.womensaid.org.uk and www.thehideout.org.uk), and running the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline in partnership with Refuge. Women's Aid is a registered charity no 1054154.
2. The Women’s Aid Website can be found at: www.womensaid.org.uk. This is a comprehensive website about domestic violence and its impact on women and children. The website has help sections for women experiencing domestic violence, as well as policy briefings and research findings. The website, built in 1999, has around 2 million hits a month. Women’s Aid also runs a website for children and young people experiencing domestic violence www.thehideout.org.uk
3. For more information on the Global Network of Women’s Shelters or to download the full Global Data Count report go to http://www.gnws.org/
4. Measuring the impact of cuts in public expenditure on the provision of services to prevent violence against women and girls: A report commissioned by the Trust for London and Northern Rock Foundation and researched and compiled by leading academic Professor Sylvia Walby, UNESCO Chair in Gender Research, and Jude Towers at Lancaster University, raises concern about the implications of public expenditure reductions for the provision of local violence against women services.