THERE has been an increasing number of calls to a Fife charity helping women to escape domestic abuse during the COVID-19 outbreak.

And Fife Council have provided a further six places of refuge, bringing the total to 41, to Fife Women’s Aid to assist anyone trying to flee violence.

While the advice during the coronavirus pandemic is to stay safe at home, the local authority is increasing its support for those people for whom home is not a safe place to be.

Convener of the community and housing services committee, Councillor Judy Hamilton, said: “COVID-19 presents particular challenges for people and families living with domestic abuse.

“While the advice is to stay at home to protect ourselves from the COVID-19 virus, some people are experiencing isolation.

“Social distancing can exacerbate experiences of domestic abuse, affecting families in unsafe situations with limited access to vital support and escape.

“We’re working with Fife Women’s Aid as we recognise the particular risks of lockdown for those living with domestic abuse.”

The 41 places of refuge offer the safety and support that women and children living with domestic abuse need, particularly during this period of lockdown.

Lynda Carey, from Fife Women’s Aid, said the number of calls to their helpline had increased over the coronavirus crisis with women asking for help to escape abuse.

She added: “Partners and the wider community have been really supportive in terms of resources, fundraising and offers of help.”

Last month, Sexual Health Fife, which is run by NHS Fife, had warned that incidents of domestic abuse “may increase” as lockdown was limiting the options for victims to get away from the perpetrator.

It said: “The stay at home messaging which is a large part of our fight against COVID-19 will pose a challenge in particular for women at risk of gender-based violence, including domestic abuse.

“One in four women may experience domestic abuse and this may increase during the pandemic.

“The opportunity for this crime to take place increases and opportunity for women to seek help or remove themselves from an abuse situation may be limited.”

The following services are able to provide help and support:

NHS Fife Gender based Violence Team – 01592 729133 or email; police on 101 or 999; Fife Women’s Aid – 0808 802 5555; Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre – 01592 642336; Safe Space – 01383 739084; SAGE – 07909483279; National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline – 0800 027 1234; and Rape Crisis – 07537410027 or 08088010392.


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