Published on 15th April 2020

A charity in Cheshire has been awarded a grant by the county’s police and crime commissioner to help domestic abuse victims stay in touch during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Changing Lives were successful in their application to PCC David Keane’s Safer Communities Express Grants fund which is supporting community organisations to respond to the pandemic.

The charity, which manages domestic abuse services in Runcorn and Widnes, has been awarded £1,000 to purchase tablets to help residents in refuges stay in touch with their family and friends and access essential services like online banking and online fitness programmes while in isolation.

changing-lives-logo-low-res-version.jpg

The devices will also be used to help children living in refuges to complete school work and virtually contact their friends while schools are closed which will help them both educationally and recreationally.

Jacki Murphy, project manager from Changing Lives, said: “Isolation is making some of our residents really distressed as, once again, they feel they have no freedom. They are struggling with the lack of contact with family and friends while living at the refuge and the restrictions imposed around social distancing.

“Many of our clients do not have smart phones. Often, they have been seized by the police for evidence during an investigation. We try to provide all clients with a basic phone if needed, but they are then not able to access the internet on these phones.

“The funding from PCC David Keane will allow to us purchase tablets so clients can freely access the internet and vital online services. This will empower our clients and help them manage their mental and emotional wellbeing.”

PCC David Keane added: “Domestic abuse is a hidden crime which is becoming more prevalent as people are trapped at home with abusive partners.

“Refuges provide a sanctuary for victims to escape abuse at home but it’s also important that residents don’t feel isolated from the outside world when living in a refuge.

“This grant will keep those suffering from domestic abuse stay virtually connected to their loved ones at a time they are unable to physically contact them.”

The Commissioner has also recently launched a campaign in partnership with the Chief Constable which encourages those suffering from domestic abuse and their friends and families to seek support.

The Open the Door campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue whilst showing people how to recognise the signs, know what to do and have the confidence to take action.

You can find out how to access local domestic abuse services in your area by visiting https://www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk/

If you need support and advice, you can also call Cheshire Police on 101 or the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. In an emergency, where there is a threat to life or a crime is taking place, please call 999.