Southwark Council has given funding to domestic violence charity Refuge to help workers connect with victims during the Covid-19 outbreak.  

Victims are much more at risk of abuse when trapped at home with the perpetrators.  

The money is going towards laptops for workers to increase their ability to connect with and help victims as the country isolates.  

Councillor Kieron Williams, cabinet member for housing management and modernisation, said: “Domestic abuse is a real concern at this time especially, as people are being asked to stay inside with their families.  

“Worryingly, for some, that means being trapped with an abuser.  

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown, we have seen a marked decrease in the number of people approaching the council for help with housing due to domestic abuse.  

“This is concerning because we know that those victims are out there, and this indicates they feel unable to come forward. 

“We have great expertise in helping people with housing when they are experiencing abuse, with Solace Women’s Aid embedded in our housing options team and still providing an expert 24/7 service throughout the crisis.  

“We would actively encourage anyone who is afraid or being abused in their home to get in touch with our housing options service, where we will assess their situation (within public health guidelines) and help where we can.  

“Where possible, and if it is preferred by the victim, we have a policy to evict the perpetrator so the victim can stay in the family home. 

“We hope that the donation from the council will help the victims of abuse by providing more access to support for them while living in refuges, so they are more connected and less isolated from family and friends.” 

Refuge thanked Southwark and five other councils, Lambeth, Richmond, Barking and Dagenham, Derbyshire, and Cambridgeshire, who also gave funding.  

“A massive thank you to those local councils who have provided funding for laptops so our domestic abuse workers can continue their lifesaving work as safely as possible,” the charity tweeted.  

It comes as a host of domestic violence organisations signed a letter to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) calling for more funding.  

The letter, composed by the Public Interest Law Centre and Solace Women’s Aid, demands “urgent action is taken for survivors of domestic violence during Covid-19” and said  incidents have already risen due to the lockdown.  

It quoted figures in China which saw a threefold increase in cases during the outbreak.  

“Under normal circumstances, spending time indoors is often unsafe for those experiencing domestic abuse, and other forms of VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls).  

“However, during lockdown the danger to women is exacerbated as they are unable to leave their homes.  

“Survivors are likely to be subject to higher rates of violence and abuse and will find it increasingly difficult to obtain support from family, friends and access local services.  

“Infection control measures such as self-isolation and social distancing will be used by perpetrators as a further tool of coercive and controlling behaviour,” it said.