Trained staff working for a dedicated domestic abuse helpline have spent 650 hours on the phone offering support to victims, concerned family members and other professionals in the space of six months.
The large influx in calls comes after the helpline was relaunched earlier this year to manage a rising number of people impacted by the pandemic with victims potentially feeling trapped in their homes.
Developed in partnership between DIAS Domestic Violence Centre, The Well Women Centre & Wigan Council, it provides a central point of contact for people that may be concerned for the safety of someone living in the borough.
Data collected by DIAS reveals how important support is with 3,090 calls taken by a team of 16 between 23 March – 11 October – a 272% increase compared to last year.
The direct access service has led to a 46% increase in clients contacting DIAS for the first time with no referral needed and this has played a big part in the 650 hours of support for callers – a 121% increase on last year.
The support service takes into consideration that victims may find it hard to contact the helpline if they are living with a perpetrator so anyone is free to get in touch via text, telephone or email with details available on the website and social media.
The proactive approach looked to build upon work already undertaken in the borough such as emergency refuge provision and the creation of specialist safeguarding roles within the hospital setting.
The helpline will work collaboratively with existing arrangements to support families affected by domestic abuse including the Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors and the boroughs longstanding integrated partnership response.
Councillor Paula Wakefield, lead Member for Equalities and Domestic Abuse, said: “It has never been more important to reinforce to members of the public that during a time when there is bound to be additional pressures on relationships and home life that help is available.
“If you are in an abusive relationship or know of someone who is, then please reach out – you are not alone – there is support available.”
The new exciting service also looks to build on strong links in communities, in particular with Primary care and education settings. Community drop in and recovery sessions will be created to support those affected by domestic abuse.
All this work will be underpinned by a new focus on Domestic Abuse training and awareness that will be delivered across the borough by DIAS in partnership with Wigan Council and other key organisations.
The registered charity DIAS which had a team of four working back in March has responded to lockdown by increasing its team to 16 in support with Well Women to deliver the community DA contract.
This has led to the charity successfully receiving funding from a range of organisations including MoJ via the Police & Crime Commissioner, Forever Manchester and the National Lottery.
Gemma Braithwaite, DIAS chief officer, said: “I’m really excited to lead this new provision. We now have a real opportunity to help every single person who is affected by domestic abuse within our borough.
“If you have been affected then we want you to know that help and support is available. Please get in touch, you are not alone.”
Anyone wishing to ring the dedicated domestic abuse helpline can call 01942 311365 between 7am- 7pm, Monday to Friday.
More information is available online at diasdvc.org/