Extra funding has been announced following fears of a surge in domestic violence under lockdown.

From the start of the year to March, East Ayrshire Women’s Aid has seen a rise of 16 per cent and for the year 2019/2020 a rise of 26 per cent in the use of their service.

This follows prominent campaigning over the last 12 months for East Ayrshire Council’s Domestic Violence policy.

However, calls to one charity’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline increased by 25 per cent during the first week in April.

The chief executive of Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Sandra Horely CBE said visits to the national domestic abuse website nationaldahelpline.org.uk increased by 150 per cent during the initial stages of COVID-19 lockdown.

Councillor Jim McMahon, who represents the people of Cumnock and New Cumnock, is also the White Ribbon Champion for East Ayrshire.

He told the Chronicle: “It is important to emphasise that during these unprecedented times we are living in just now – even more than ever when tensions and stress levels increase as people are confined to their homes – that these are not excuses for domestic violence.”

Cllr McMahon gave a speech at the Gender Based Violence conference earlier this year.

He said: “As a survivor of countless incidents of domestic abuse as a child, beaten constantly with a belt, slapped, punched, in a home when on a regular basis I would witness some of the most despicable and sickening crimes of indiscriminate violence inflicted on a woman, my mother, that no child in a civilised society should have to experience.”

Grants from the Scottish Government’s £350 million Communities Fund have been made to Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA) and Rape Crisis Scotland to ensure that access to these key support services is maintained.

Victims still have access to methods of reporting crimes during the crisis, including using online video platforms, text messaging and phone calls.

SWA has been given £1,350,000 to help deliver increased support.

Cllr McMahon said: “Services are still be available to victims who may fall victim to abuse.

“We have seen increases in domestic violence worldwide since lockdowns began, and in France it has risen as much as 36 per cent in a week.

“I would encourage anyone experiencing such violence to use the services available at Women’s Aid, who can be contacted on 01563 536001 Monday – Thursday 9am – 4.30pm and Fridays 9am – 1pm.”

You can email info@eastayrshirewomensaid.org.uk

There is also Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (24hrs): on 0800 027 1234. Always dial 999 in an emergency.


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