Growing concern that the needs of domestic abuse victims are being overlooked in national response to Covid-19

Nearly four weeks into the Covid-19 crisis, Safe Ireland today said that it was growing increasingly concerned that key Government agencies are failing to respond adequately and in a timely manner to the urgent and practical needs of women and children experiencing domestic abuse and coercive control.

Safe Ireland is the national social change agency working with 38 member domestic violence services across the country.

The agency has submitted a proposal for emergency funding of €1.6 million to Government to ensure that services can respond adequately to the needs of women and children at this unique time. However, there has been no definite response.

In contrast, in the UK and Scotland, domestic violence services were allocated emergency funding as a priority government response to the virus. The emergency funding would be used to help accommodate women safely within the community, to ensure PPE, necessary technology and to provide for adequate professional staff throughout the crisis.

“We have an untenable situation at the moment, where women and children are living in communal refuges, with shared kitchens and bathrooms,” said Sharon O’Halloran, Safe Ireland Co-CEO. “These are potential sites for an outbreak of Covid-19. The women and children in these refuges should be moved into safe, self-contained accommodation as part of  the emergency national response.”

“Overall the capacity of our emergency accommodation services is down about 20% because we have to leave some units as isolation spaces,” she continued. “We need to be thinking creatively and at a national level about how we can accommodate all women and children safely when they look for support, particularly as the weeks of containment and isolation progress.”

She suggested that this might mean identifying Airbandb accommodation or other housing stock in the community.  Resources are urgently needed from the government to make this happen, she said.

Last Friday, the agency also submitted a proposal to the Department of Social Protection that women and children in need of immediate relocation as a result of domestic violence are facilitated to access emergency rent supplement for a period of three months and/or the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Housing instability is four times more likely for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.

For more information contact:

Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207