Domestic abuse

Homelessness More Than Tripled in Bristol during Lockdowns

Homelessness rates in cities like Bristol have increased significantly over the past year of lockdowns, including the number of families with children needing temporary accommodation, with figures surging after each lockdown. Reasons such as domestic abuse have been cited for causing this surge. BBC News has the story on homelessness in Bristol.

Paul Sylvester described the 330% increase during the past year as “absolutely massive”.

He was speaking during a multi-agency housing group meeting on the impact of Covid on homelessness in the city.

Families with children in temporary accommodation went up by 11%, but the number of rough sleepers fell.

Mr Sylvester, Head of Housing Options at Bristol City Council, said homelessness surged after each lockdown, with the biggest rise after the third, as coronavirus took its toll on families and relationships.

The number of people made homeless because they were told to leave by family or friends doubled during the past 12 months, he said. 

Relationship breakdown and domestic abuse were also factors, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“The increase in singles has been absolutely massive, up by 330%, compared to before Covid,” he said.

Mr Sylvester said the “Everyone In” campaign in the first lockdown saw nearly 300 people given beds in hotels and youth hostels.

He said emergency funding had helped bring the number of rough sleepers in Bristol to an historic low of 20 in January 2020 but this had since risen to around the “mid 40s”, compared with around 130 in 2019.

Worth reading in full.

A report from the Observer in January suggests that the rise of homelessness is not isolated to Bristol.

More than 70,000 households have been made homeless since the start of the pandemic, with tens of thousands more threatened with homelessness, despite Government pledges to protect tenants and prevent evictions, according to figures compiled by the Observer

But despite the Government banning evictions for most of the last 10 months, the Observer’s figures show that 207,543 households approached their local council for help with homelessness or the threat of homelessness between the start of April and the end of November 2020.

Of these, 50,561 were “owed the prevention duty”, meaning they were judged to be threatened with homelessness, while 70,309 were “owed the relief duty”, meaning they were already homeless, which is defined more broadly than rough sleeping.

Also worth reading in full.

U.K. Child Abuse Helpline Contacted Almost 85,000 Times during Lockdowns

A U.K. children’s charity says that messages and calls to its helpline have risen to record levels over the past year of lockdowns. The most frequently raised concerns were about neglect, parental mental health and physical and mental abuse. BBC News has the story.

Children’s charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says calls and messages to its helpline have risen to record levels during the pandemic. 

In the year to March 2021 the helpline was contacted almost 85,000 times, up 23% on the previous year.

The figures amplify fears that children who could not go to school during the lockdowns were more vulnerable to abuse and neglect, says the NSPCC. 

Chief Executive Sir Peter Wanless says Government recovery plans must address the harm children may have faced. 

“We’ve been hearing first-hand about the immense pressures families have faced during the pandemic and the heavy toll that has taken on children and young people. 

“For some children this has included experiencing abuse, bereavement and other harm,” said Sir Peter…

Of the 85,000 contacts to the helpline, the NSPCC says almost half, 47%, led to a referral – for example to police or children’s services. 

The most frequently raised concern was about adult or parental behaviour, including: 

~ alcohol or other substance misuse

~ domestic abuse

~ parental mental health

Other issues raised included neglect, physical abuse and emotional abuse.

NSPCC’s Chief Executive said children should be placed at the centre of the Government’s plans for the recovery from lockdown. The findings from this charity echo previous reports on the “pandemic of mental health problems” among children as a result of lockdowns, caused not only by domestic abuse but by the banning of social contact and, for example, the closing of children’s playgrounds.

Worth reading in full.

Domestic Abuse an “Epidemic Beneath a Pandemic”

Domestic abuse in the UK has been described as an “epidemic beneath a pandemic”, with a massive increase in appeals for help over the past year. The BBC has the story.

A massive increase in appeals for help over the past year from those suffering domestic abuse has exposed the scale of the problem, say campaigners. 

Refuge recorded an average of 13,162 calls and messages to its National Domestic Abuse helpline every month between April 2020 and February 2021.

That is up more than 60% on the average number of monthly contacts at the start of 2020, it says.

One campaigner described it as an epidemic beneath a pandemic.

Between January and March 2020, before the first lockdowns in the UK, the charity recorded an average of 8,176 calls and messages per month.

Between April 2020 and February 2021, it logged a total of more than 131,000 such contacts.

Refuge said 72% of these were from women who said they were experiencing violence and abuse, and nearly a fifth said their abuser had threatened to kill them.

It said many calls were from women who were being terrorised in their own homes, and who were afraid to seek treatment for their injuries in case they overburdened hospital staff.

Some were making plans to flee their homes, while others had no home to go to.

This damning report highlights just one of the consequences of focussing all of our attention on Covid. A women’s abuse charity in Jersey has seen a big rise in demand through the last year of lockdowns. The following is also from the BBC:

The Jersey Women’s Refuge said the number of women staying in one of its safe houses went up from 50 in 2019 to 63 in 2020.

The number of callers to its helpline went up by nearly 50% over the same period to 101.

Refuge manager Marine Oliveira said people were “facing increased anxiety and pressure” in the pandemic.

The charity opened a temporary second safe house for nearly four months in 2020 as demand grew.

In 2020, a total of 365 women and 49 children accessed the safe houses, contacted the helpline or used the charity’s outreach or group work.

The BBC’s report on the impact of lockdown on domestic abuse nationally is worth reading in full.