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Coronavirus: Domestic abuse services to get £2m amid lockdown - BBC News

Woman looks out of windowImage copyright Getty Images

Domestic abuse services are set to receive an extra £2 million as the Home Office launches a new support campaign during the coronavirus lockdown.

The additional money will "immediately" bolster helplines and online support, the Home Secretary announced.

The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests since the lockdown.

Priti Patel also launched an initiative called 'You Are Not Alone' to help those experiencing domestic abuse.

It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £750m package for charities during the pandemic.

The government said the extra funds will allow those most vulnerable to abuse to access support during periods when it might be difficult to communicate on the phone.

People are also being encouraged to take part in the government's campaign by sharing a photo of a heart on their palm in their windows and on social media using #YouAreNotAlone.

Martin Hewitt, National Police Chiefs' Council chairman, said 400 domestic abuse suspects were arrested in two weeks in the West Midlands.

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Media captionTara: "I didn't care if I didn't wake up from the night before"

From next week, social media adverts will highlight where people can find help.

Ms Patel said: "Coronavirus has opened Britain's enormous heart and shown our love and compassion for one another as we come together to help those who are most in need.

"I am now asking this nation to use that amazing compassion and community spirit to embrace those who are trapped in the horrific cycle of abuse.

"To help us all look out for those who need help, we have created a new campaign and we have created a symbol of hope - a handprint embossed with a heart - so that people can easily show that we will not tolerate abuse as a society."

Mr Hewitt added: "To abusers, do not think that this is a time where you can get away with this. We will still arrest, we will still bring people into custody and we will still prosecute."

Ms Patel added that while perpetrators should be the ones to leave homes, the government will work to ensure there is refuge for victims and their children if this is not possible.

Ms Patel said anyone in immediate danger should call 999 and press 55 on a mobile if they are unable to talk. "Our outstanding police will still be there for you," she added.

The campaign will also publicise the support available on the 24-hour freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline number - 0808 2000 247.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge, welcomed the government's announcement "at this critical time".

Image copyright Home Office
Image caption The Home Office has launched a new domestic abuse awareness campaign.

"We have worked around the clock to ensure our national helpline and frontline specialist services remain open and accessible to women experiencing domestic abuse," Ms Horley said.

"What is needed now, more than ever, is to ensure every woman experiencing domestic abuse is aware of the confidential support available."

Ms Horley added that she hopes the campaign will reach "the tens of thousands of people experiencing domestic abuse".

The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a spike in calls, with campaigners warning the restrictions in movements as the UK tries to stem the spread of coronavirus could have heightened domestic tensions and limited escape routes.

Pressure on other services could also have contributed to the increase, campaigners said.


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