SOLACE, a domestic abuse provider in the UK, has reported an unprecedented demand for its services, as calls from women facing and fleeing abuse more than double since before the pandemic.
Many of these calls are from women and their children in crisis, with nowhere to go. The surge has resulted in an urgent need for additional funding in order for Solace to continue to provide its critical support for women and children.
The charity helps more than 23,000 women and girls each year through its services, which include an advice line, counselling, safe houses and rape crisis support. Solace has helped women to flee abuse throughout the pandemic, with more complex problems arising as a result of restrictions and stay at home orders.
For instance, during the first Covid-19 lockdown, the incidence of domestic abuse rose by an estimated 25%, with 160,000 children thought to be living in homes where there was domestic abuse. Many women were monitored 24/7, however, it is now, as restrictions ease and families are able to leave their homes, that the rise in calls to the charity’s free advice line has come.
To encourage people across the UK to lend their support and help Solace increase its helpline capacity, the charity has released a powerful video series highlighting the plight of the women contacting their services.
Shot through the eyes of a service user and her child, the short films depict a trend that Solace has witnessed on their helpline; women calling on their way to work, on the school run or even from schools seeking help to flee violent homes.
The films bring to life the change an empowering call can have on women fleeing abuse and finding that moment of freedom.
Shot by female cinematographer Bea Delgado and award-winning Director Alfie Dale, the series was produced by female-founded Roll Nine Productions and features Roisin Ross, a Sexual Health Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advisor and Solace staff member, portraying the advice line worker.
Jane Jutsum, Solace Director, said:
“The last 15 months have been really difficult for everyone, but for women and children living with abuse, it is terrifying and often life-threatening. We have seen a truly alarming rise in calls since March 2020, when the lockdown began.
“Our campaign highlights the reality of what it is like for women when they need to flee from abuse and the critical moment a woman realises that she is safe and about to get a fresh start with the support of Solace.”
Fiona Dwyer, Solace Chief Executive Officer, said:
“Our work is crucial to supporting women and children, particularly across London, enabling them to build safe and strong lives. Our services have seen an exponential rise in demand since the start of the pandemic, and we urgently need further funding to enable us to answer every call to continue our life-saving work.”
To help support the work of Solace Women’s Aid, please donate online at: www.solacewomensaid.org/lifeline.