2011 Global Data Count provides snapshot of women’s shelter services

(March 8, 2012 Family Law Week UK) To mark International Women's Day, the Women's Aid Federation of England joined the Global Network of Women's Shelters to release the results of the 2011 Global Shelter Data Count alongside the Women's Aid charity's own unique Day to Count 2011 and 2011 Annual Survey of Domestic Violence Services. This counts aims to help highlight the worrying situation for women and children experiencing domestic violence and the severe lack of and threat to local specialist provision.

Women's Aid Federation of England says that across the world, on just one day, 56,308 women and 39,130 children sought refuge from domestic violence at participating women's shelters. Of these, 3,410 women and 3,720 children were resident in a refuge in England.

Of those who contacted a local shelter, at least 7,608 women and 4,734 children had to be turned away. Women's Aid's Day to Count in England showed that 320 of these women could not be accommodated in at least one of the refuges they approached, usually simply due to lack of space. The Women's Aid charity says that given the drastic cuts to specialist service provision that has been witnessed across England, this number is highly likely to rise in 2012.

The Women's Aid 2011 Annual Survey of Domestic Violence Services established that half of all specialist domestic violence services are currently negatively affected by funding cuts. This has resulted in a decrease in staffing levels, most significantly in children's worker roles, leading to over three hundred women being turned away from refuges every day.

Women's Aid added that concerns were echoed many times over across England and reflect the findings of the impact of cuts in public expenditure report commissioned by the Trust for London and Northern Rock Foundation and released at Women's Aid's AGM on 1st February of 2012.

Women's Aid fears that the ongoing erosion of specialist services not only has future financial implications, but will impact on families and potentially cost lives.

The Women's Aid survey found that between April 1st 2010 to March 31st 2011 member services helped 137,160 women and 43,280 children through refuge, outreach and other non-refuge-based services. It is feared that this is just the tip of iceberg and does not include Women's Aid online support or callers to the 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline in England run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge.

Nicola Harwin, CBE, Chief Executive of Women's Aid Federation of England said:

"For nearly 40 years Women's Aid has protected millions of women and children across the country and we have never been more concerned about the future of refuge provision. Our unique annual survey, compiled with the assistance of all of our members across the country, highlights that at least 320 women and their children are turned away from a refuge every day, and this situation is likely only to worsen as massive cuts to local authority budgets are disproportionately targeting and decimating our local domestic violence support services. We are urging all local authorities to thoroughly consider the damaging effects of withdrawing specialist domestic and sexual violence services."

Source: UK Family Law Week at: http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed96340

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