UNPRECEDENTED data from the Women’s Aid census has renewed calls for safer places for women with a shocking statistic that nine out of 10 victims were murdered by someone they knew.
In Salford and Manchester, the figures cause for alarms as Elaine Defries, Pankhurst Operations Manager at the Pankhurst Trust which incorporates Manchester’s Women’s Aid says:
”Our refuges are oversubscribed, we could fill them twice.”
The renewed calls for safer spaces throughout Salford and Manchester has never been needed more imminently with Elaine adding that she feels there is simply no progress being made in this circumstance.
“The figures have been that two women that we know of are dying every week at the hands of an intimate partner.
“My thoughts are we are not making progress as we should be on this. I think that its to do with the lack of refuge spaces, it is to do with financial abuse that is often perpetrated on a woman, it is to do with the emotional abuse that reduces self-confidence and makes people feel they cannot leave, and it is also the threat of violence.”
Recent Government proposals to take short-term supported housing such as refuges out of welfare system is a matter of life or death for woman campaigners says. Elaine said:
“Refuges across the country are threatened, there is always funding changes and funding changes always implicate our ability to deliver refuge.
“Money is being squeezed, the central government is asking for more and more efficiencies. We had a massive restructure about four years ago where we had to change the way we delivered our service because we were being given less money, and that is on the cards again.
“We are constantly under this threat ‘do it cheaper’. If you are doing it cheaper you are not doing it better. Quality has to mean quality.”
Salford and Manchester’s Women’s Aid are specialists with the Manchester branch having been around for more than 40 years, both have worked with woman and men who have experienced domestic abuse for a long time.
Elaine praises her dedicated staff at the Pankhurst building who admit it is hard to keep a smile open their faces at times.
“The staff here are a dedicated group who put more hours in then they are paid for. Every single member of staff is on a mission. So we use that energy and their belief in our service to keep going even when there are funding cuts. But it is hard to keep a smile on our face when we know there is so many women in danger.”
With the reorganisation four years ago, Women’s Aid retained the quality of their service with reduced staff terms and conditions. At Manchester’s Women’s Aid the team are being creative about how they acquire the funding.
Elaine says their commissioners believe in them but they are under pressure to reduce costs. Manchester womans aid also seeks funding from Big Lottery and Comic Relief. Elaine and her team recently launched a crowd funder to refurbish the therapeutic garden in the Pankhurst Centre.
Listen below as Emily Ingram, who has witnessed domestic abuse first-hand, talk about the shocking statistics and the importance of refuges.