3,256 'unmet requests' for refuge because the services were full in 2018

Around nine requests a day for refuge had to be refused last year because the services were full.

3,256 'unmet requests' for refuge because the services were full in 2018

Around nine requests a day for refuge had to be refused last year because the services were full.

All requests for help were responded to, said Safe Ireland, with women and children accommodated in hotels and B&Bs where possible but in some cases, a woman might choose to go home.

There were 3,256 “unmet requests” for refuge because the services were full in 2018, according to the national social change agency working to end domestic violence.

Women and their children are staying longer in the refuges because of the housing crisis, making it extremely difficult for the services to respond to ongoing demand.

Last year, 10,782 women and 2,572 children received support from a domestic violence support service.

Domestic violence support services also answered 53,627 helpline calls — around 147 calls for help every day.

The calls include 19,000 made to the national helpline operated by Women's Aid, with more than 34,000 responded to by services throughout the country.

The statistics are not directly comparable with those gathered in 2016 because of differences in the numbers of services provided but they do indicate that overall numbers are slightly up. In 2016, 10,101 women looked for support and 50,551 helpline calls were responded to.

Chief executive of Safe Ireland, Sharon O'Halloran, described the number of women and children looking for safety as “shocking" and said she is very concerned about the unreported prevalence of domestic abuse and coercive control.

“Research shows that just 8% of women who experience coercive control and domestic abuse currently look for support from a domestic violence service,” she said.

Safe Ireland presented the latest statistics to a meeting of its 38 services that coincided with International Human Rights day.

Ms O'Halloran said the Government is continuing to “starve” the already fragile, creaking and exhausted domestic violence infrastructure of the funding and resources needed to respond to women and children living with domestic abuse.

There was no additional funding for the domestic violence sector in Budget 2020 and much of the budget that the Government claimed as investment was in reality of combination of prior commitments and recycled announcements.

“Recycled budget announcement and grand statements of commitment will do very little for the women and children coming to our services every day,” said Ms O'Halloran.

“They will do even less for the women and children who have not come forward yet and who continue to live in homes of terror.”

Ms O'Hallorhan said domestic violence support services are staffed by dedicated and extraordinary professionals who are “hard-wired” to help. “But hard-wired to help is no longer enough when we are dealing with an epidemic of domestic abuse and coercive control.”

Many services managers are struggling to maintain and recruit staff because they are being paid very low salaries compared to other sectors.

Ms O'Halloran said that during the last recession funding to domestic violence services was cut significantly despite demand for services and the need to respond to more complex cases continuing to increase.

“The infrastructure has never fully recovered and has never been properly resourced to recover from eight years of austerity."

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