News: Combating domestic violence during Covid-19
Published: 15 May 2020
In April the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee reported that, in the first weeks of lockdown, calls to a national domestic abuse helpline rose by 49% and domestic abuse-related killings doubled. Two Churchill Fellows, Becky Rogerson and Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, are working on measures to help victims of domestic violence.
"It’s more important than ever to work as a community so that we can deliver essential goods and services to vulnerable women” - Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, Fellow
Becky Rogerson (CF 2011) is Director of the domestic violence charity Wearside Women in Need, which has seen a 50% increase in victims using their refuges since lockdown begun. Currently Becky is working with the local Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and other partner agencies to produce a plan to support victims of domestic violence across Northumbria.
Becky is also working with the local authority to create a pilot project providing guidelines on how friends and family can support loved ones who are experiencing domestic abuse. In addition, Becky sits on the board of trustees of Women’s Aid England, where she is advising on how specialist domestic abuse services can support victims in the short and medium term during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Becky says, “Every week, something pops up from my Fellowship that supports my work. In central America, I witnessed a ‘bottom-up’ approach to dealing with domestic violence, where communities felt more empowered to support victims. I feel that here in the UK we need to widen our scope of services to include support and advice for friends and family of those experiencing domestic abuse.”
Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan (CF 2020) is the founder and CEO of the Zinthiya Trust, a women’s charity that alleviates abuse and poverty in Leicester and Leicestershire. Adhering to social distancing measures, the Zinthiya Trust is continuing to operate their normal face-to-face support service to domestic violence victims. The charity is also providing advice and support to victims over the phone and through social media platforms.
Zinthiya has also reached out to other local organisations to deliver food parcels and sanitary products to domestic violence victims who are living in refuges and safe homes. The Zinthiya Trust is also working with two locally-based charities, United Against Violence and Abuse and Victim First, to provide refuge accommodation to victims.
Zinthiya says, “Although usually the Zinthiya Trust is a support-based charity, the past few weeks have shown us that women who are victims of domestic violence are also struggling to access necessities like food. It’s more important than ever to work as a community so that we can deliver essential goods and services to vulnerable women.”