The Women’s Refuge Shielded Site means anyone can access help by clicking a little green and white icon on the bottom of the Council’s homepage. This brings up a small menu and chat option which can be easily exited from and doesn’t show in a browser history.
For those experiencing domestic abuse, paranoia and fear of being found out by the perpetrator can be a big factor in preventing them from seeking help when they need it, says Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, Community Well-being portfolio lead.
“This tool is a potential life changer. It offers a discreet and effective lifeline to those who need it most, when they need it most, and we’re really proud to be supporting it on our website.
“Of course, there are lots of agencies and support networks also available all around the region, and our Welfare Team can provide guidance and details on them all by calling 04 499 4444.”
Our Welfare team and partner agencies have reported a significant increase in domestic violence as families struggle with the stresses of lockdown and unemployment.
“Nobody should feel unsafe in their own home,” says Mayor Andy Foster. “As a Council we’re wholly committed to supporting the agencies and organisations that help people at risk of family violence.
“Earlier this month, myself and Councillors, Chief Executive and Executive Leadership Team all agreed to a voluntary 10% pay reduction for the rest of 2020, to redirect that money to community organisations significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Many community welfare organisations have had increased demand placed on them in the past month, and have lost direct revenue and sponsorship opportunities, so our collective support will make a difference – alongside the provision of resources and guidance.”
On top of the strains and stresses felt by many, such as job loss and disruption of education, for individuals living in unsafe households, school or work are often their only safe spaces, says Welfare Manager, Jenny Rains.
“They will have had a protracted period without this safety network, so initiatives like the Shielded Site and increase in community services funding this year will provide immediate assistance for these groups and benefit those in need across the city.”
Alert Level 3 still requires us to stay in our bubbles, but the Police are reminding people at risk of family violence that if they need to leave their home they absolutely should, that their safety remains the number one priority and that support is available.
If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger or under threat, please contact 111.