fleeing domestic violence will be set up, in a groundbreaking deal
with Comic Relief, announced the government today.
danger at home and at risk of homelessness because of violent
partners. The helpline will offer support and information, including
safety planning and translation services, to women at risk in
England. It will be backed by a new 'refuges on-line' database, which
will provide touch of a button information on refuge accommodation
and specialist services for domestic violence professionals, across
the whole of the UK.
The government will spend a further£7m to develop new refuges
in partnership with local authorities around the country, to ensure
better availability of safe accommodation for women and children
forced to leave their homes.
The announcement comes as the latest homelessness statistics show
that in the past three months, out of the 33,640 households accepted
as homeless by local authorities, 23 per cent was due to relationship
breakdown, with domestic violence an issue in 7 out of 10 cases.
Barbara Roche, minister for social exclusion and equality who today
visited the Field Lane Homeless Families Centre in Kings Cross and
Hackney's Women's Aid, said:
'There is a clear link between domestic violence and homelessness.
Domestic violence accounts for 16 per cent of those on local
authority homelessness lists. Many of these families are in
unsuitable B&B hotels, which don't provide safety or security.
'Setting up a national helpline and developing more refuge space is a
major step forward both in terms of the government's commitment to
tackling homelessness more effectively and increasing safety and
protection for women and children experiencing domestic violence.'
Comic Relief supporter Davina McCall said:
'Far too many women struggle for years to cope with violence in the
home and often they don't tell anyone. When they do find the courage
to leave, it can be difficult to find somewhere safe for children and
themselves. This new freephone and vacancy service will ensure that
help is at hand quickly and easily and it's brilliant that Comic
Relief has awarded its biggest grant ever in the UK for these new
Michelle, 29, a survivor of domestic violence said:
'I left home with my two children, after 13 years of abuse from my
partner. It took a long time for me to get the courage to call a
helpline. But once I did, I knew there was help out there. It made me
understand I could go - and I was able to get a place at a refuge.
That was a year ago, and I haven't looked back.'
Domestic violence accounts for around a quarter of all recorded crime
in England and Wales, with an incident being reported to police every
minute. The charities Refuge and Women's Aid will run the new 24-hour
helpline. The 'refuges on line' system will also include Scottish
Women's Aid, Welsh Women's Aid and Northern Ireland Women's Aid to
ensure UK wide coverage.
John Denham, chair of the ministerial group on domestic violence
'This helpline is an important step forward in protecting vulnerable
women and children from violence in the home. Domestic violence is an
unacceptable crime that claims the lives of two women a week, and the
Government is determined to tackle it.
'Another important step will be our public consultation paper, due to
be published by spring 2003. The aim of this is to generate a
comprehensive response from the public, voluntary sector and others,
to ensure the widest possible agreement on what needs to be done to
prevent and deal with domestic violence and to bring perpetrators to
1. The Homelessness Directorate in the ODPM and Comic Relief will both be allocating£1m to the deal. It is anticipated that the full system will be fully
operational in the autumn of 2003.
2. The Homelessness Directorate is spending£125m this year to
help local authorities develop new schemes to tackle homelessness.
These include mediation services for family and couples in
relationship difficulties; additional support for women fleeing
domestic violence; rent deposit guarantee schemes to help homeless
people find housing in the private sector; court and landlord advice
services to reduce evictions; and debt and welfare counselling to
help people sustain their tenancies.£7m from this allocation
will be given to the Housing Corporation to increase safe
accommodation choices for women and children.
3. The government has set up a ministerial group on domestic
violence to ensure co-ordinated and concerted action at the highest
level. Today's announcement is part of a wider government strategy
to improve safety and protection for victims, bring perpetrators to
justice, and change our culture so that domestic violence is no
longer tolerated, excused or ignored. Last month the government
announced that it would publish a wide ranging consultation paper on
proposals to tackle domestic violence.
4. Comic Relief is seriously committed to helping end poverty and
social injustice in the UK and the poorest countries in the world.
Comic Relief has always had an interest in supporting services for
women and children facing domestic violence. Since Comic Relief began
it has awarded over£5m to the domestic violence sector, this
includes the 'Get Connected' initiative, which put computers and
Internet connections into nearly 300 domestic violence services
across the UK.
5. One in four women will face domestic abuse at some point in their
lives, and thousands of children witness violence and abuse. It
crosses all social divides and affects rich and poor, black and white
6. The ODPM is also today publishing a
policy briefing on the links between homelessness and domestic
violence. This can be found here. Latest
statistics relating to homelessness in England indicate that at
September 2002, 84,800 households are in temporary. This is a nine
per cent increase on the same time last year. Included in this are
around 6,500 families with children living in B&B hotels. This has
not increased over the last six months. This is a nine per cent
increase on the same time last year.
7. New research published today 'The Provision of Accommodation and
Support for Households Experiencing Domestic Violence in England',
ISBN 1 85112 607 4 is available from: ODPM Publications Sales Centre,
Cambertown House, Goldthorpe Industrial Estate Goldthorpe, Rotherham
S63 9BL Tel: 01709 891318; Fax: 01709 881673 or via
The summary: Housing
Research Summary Number 176 is available on the website:
8. Two Supporting People guides have also been published today which
give information and advice to local authorities and service
providers on how the needs of households experiencing domestic
violence might be met by housing related support services
commissioned under Supporting People. These can be found at