Demand for abuse services rises 75%

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Referrals for domestic abuse have risen by around 75 per cent in recent months for a north Oxfordshire women’s charity.

Volunteers at the Eve Women’s Wellbeing Project, based in Upper Heyford, say a new awareness campaign by Thames Valley Police may be behind the dramatic rise in referrals from domestic abuse services and health professionals.

New satellite groups are being established in Bicester and Banbury as demand for Eve’s services, including help with domestic abuse, continues to increase.

Anji Hall, founder of Eve, said: “Certainly most of the referrals we’ve had over the last six or seven months have been for domestic abuse.

“We get referrals from domestic abuse services, and they mainly seem to be young women with children.”

Thames Valley Police ran a two-month campaign earlier this year to encourage people to speak out about domestic abuse.

The force estimates an extra 440 people reported abuse as a direct result of the campaign.

Nadia Brown, a former Bicester resident who leads Eve’s domestic abuse programme, said: “When we started, cases were more varied and women were being referred for different reasons, but over the last six months the number of domestic abuse referrals has increased.

“Definitely, more people are coming forward now and are beginning to talk about their abuse.

“I don’t necessarily believe more women are suffering, but people might have the knowledge to know they’re in an abusive relationship.”

The charity offers trained volunteers to help people who have suffered abuse, and has become an important resource following cut-backs to public services.

Ms Brown said: “We save other services a lot of money and time.”

But the charity is concerned it may lose out on vital grant funding after the new elected Police and Crime Commissioners are introduced in November.

Ms Brown added: “We’re not supported by the Government, and all funding comes through donations, fundraisers and local grants.

“Until the commissioners are sorted out, it won’t be clear what the guidelines will be, and where they will want to allocate money.”

The Bicester group meets on the third Monday of each month, with the next event on September 17.

The new Banbury group will meet on the fourth Monday of each month.

Ms Brown said: “The groups are not specifically about domestic abuse, but will be about providing a place for all kinds of help and support in one place.”

Contact Eve on 01869 232461 or visit http://evewomenswellbeing.org for more information.