Dozens of households were made homeless by domestic abuse over lockdowns
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Dozens of Great Yarmouth household became homeless during the lockdowns as a result of domestic abuse, figures revealed.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows from March 2020 to March 2021, Great Yarmouth Borough Council found 29 households had become homeless, while five needed help to prevent them from losing their home because of domestic abuse.
Leeway Domestic Violence and Abuse Services had been contacted 15,112 times between April 2020 and September 2021.
Whereas before the lockdowns, the service had received 5,234 calls between September 2018 and March 2020.
Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, said: “During the pandemic, Leeway has seen an increasing number of people contacting us for advice and support.
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"For those experiencing domestic abuse, home is not always a safe place and the various lockdown measures that have been in place will have made it challenging for survivors to access support.
"For instance, they may not have been able to make a telephone call for fear of alerting the perpetrator, which is highlighted by the increased number of contacts we have had via email or our Live Chat.
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“Despite the increased numbers of people who have come forward for support during this time, we know that there will be other that have not accessed support yet.
"This is why it is important to continue to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the support available, as well as how this can be accessed.”
Sue Lambert Trust is the main charity in Norfolk that offers specialist, clinical support to people who have experienced sexual violence, including domestic abuse.
Founded more than 40 years ago, every week the charity provides one to one support to more than 320 people: providing specialist counselling to help them recover, heal and build resilience.
Since the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, the Sue Lambert Trust has also seen a rise in referrals from people desperate for help.
Clive Evans, chief executive of Sue Lambert Trust, said: “In April 2019 we were contacted by just over 50 people needing our help.
"In the same period in 2021 we received three times that many requests for help.
"Sadly, the pandemic and resulting lockdowns put additional pressure on relationships and situations that were already very damaging, and we are now seeing the results of that.”
Sue Lambert Trust also provides a self-referral scheme.
“It may be that a GP or another charity has recommended us, or survivors of abuse will find us via an internet search,” Mr Evans added.
“We will always try to arrange an initial appointment for someone within six weeks and, whilst their therapeutic counselling programme may not be able to commence for several months, we will offer a range of support in the interim to ensure they know they are not alone so can start to rebuild their lives.”
Across England, councils received 31,180 requests for help from households who had lost their accommodation or were threatened with homelessness due to domestic abuse in 2020-21 – a 17pc increase on the year before.
Of those, almost half were households with children.
Though the gender of the person applying for help is not specified, separate figures from the Office for National Statistics show women are more than twice as likely to be victims of domestic abuse as men.
Sophie Francis-Cansfield, policy manager at Women’s Aid, said: “It’s shocking that, in 2021, women fleeing domestic abuse still face the terrifying prospect of either returning to their perpetrator or facing homelessness.
“We continue to face a shortage of bed spaces in specialist refuge services, and this has a huge impact for women at a time when they are most in need of support.”
For confidential advice, call the the domestic abuse helpline on 0300 561 0077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leeway also offers a free LiveChat. For more information, visit their website.
Sue Lambert Trust has offices in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.
Call 01493 806259 or email email@example.com for more information.