Emergency refuge for women fleeing domestic violence opens in Westminster

A first emergency refuge for female victims of domestic abuse fleeing their home during the coronavirus pandemic has been opened in Westminster.

The project, run by crisis charity Hestia, one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges in London, is the first of its kind to open since Britain was placed into lockdown.

The 12-bed accommodation is funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and comes after downloads of Hestia’s Bright Sky app, for victims and their friends, increased by almost 50 per cent since lockdown began.

The Met Police also recorded a nine per cent rise in domestic abuse incidents compared with the same time period last year.

Hestia also launched ‘Safe Spaces’, where victims can ask to use consultation rooms at Boots pharmacies, to contact national helplines and find local support.

Aneta Mularczyk, manager of Hestia’s Domestic Abuse Services, said: “During the Covid-19 lockdown we have seen an increased number of people trying to find support through our Bright Sky app.

“We anticipate a surge in women seeking refuge once lockdown is lifted and more women are able to make contact with specialist support services.

“There has never been a more important time for more refuge spaces than right now.

“We are pleased that Hestia is able, with support from the Mayor of London, to provide a place of safety and support for victims across the city and to help them to rebuild their lives free from violence.”

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