One year on from first opening, Portsmouth City Council have extended the lease on a temporary refuge run by local charity Stop Domestic Abuse in response to the pandemic. The last year has seen a severe shortage of national refuge spaces and a surge in demand for safe accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
CEO Claire Lambon says: “The extension over a 5-year period will provide us with the opportunity to support up to 100 women and 150 children. Since opening in July 2020 this refuge has supported 19 women and 28 children. We have worked with our partners Portsmouth City Council to address the growing need of longer-term refuge provision within the city. Lockdowns might be over however victims of domestic abuse continue to need our help. Not having somewhere safe to flee should not be a barrier to women leaving an abusive relationship. Stop Domestic Abuse will continue to work with our partners across multiple local authorities to recognise the importance of safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse.”
In April, The Domestic Abuse Bill was signed into law and the government committed £125million to local authorities for safe accommodation for women and children, a short fall of the estimated £174million necessary to ensure provision meets the need.
Domestic Abuse Survivor and Portsmouth refuge resident Ruth* says:
*Name has been changed to protect identity
“Most of my life I have been abused by family members or partners. I experienced physical and sexual abuse from aged 8. Last year I came to this refuge broken, unable to take anymore, feeling suicidal but I knew I needed to escape to protect my three children from experiencing what I had. I was scared when we first got to the refuge but soon that turned to relief. The staff were amazing, they were there every hour of every day offering me encouragement, and giving me strength, never with any judgement. I can't begin to explain the importance of having this refuge. If it wasn’t for the support I received here, I frankly would not be here today. Every woman and child that passes through the doors of this refuge can begin to rebuild the life they so rightly deserve...without fear and with empowerment.”
National domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid have been campaigning since 2014 to secure government funding to support refuges to stay open. So far, they have successfully received an investment of £70million and will continue to campaign until a funding solution is found that works for the lifesaving services women and children need.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, call the Domestic Abuse Advice Line on 03300 165 112. In an emergency call 999.
If you need refuge accommodation out of normal working hours (9:30-5:30) on Monday to Thursday evenings please call 07771 125991. If you need to access emergency refuge accommodation at any time over a weekend or on a bank holiday please call 07501 378314.