Embargoed 2nd October 2002
ALARMING INCREASE IN WOMEN EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation (Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland) recently
launched their Annual Report 2001-2002
at their 13th Annual General Meeting in Loughery
College. All of the speakers stressed the importance of Women’s Aid and
the unique contribution which the organisation is making, leading the
field in both policy development and training in partnerships with the
statutory sector in tackling violence in the home.
District Judge Marilyn Mornington from Birkinhead County
Court, spoke on her role on the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Group and
emphasised the tremendous resource in Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland’s publications and how they
have contributed to the development of strategy at the highest levels of
government in the UK and Ireland.
Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble, has responsibility for
policies on serious crime in English & Welsh police forces. He emphasised
the seriousness of the crime of domestic violence. He told delegates
“Violence in the home is not a lesser crime, rather it should be regarded
as a more serious aggravated crime.” He paid tribute to Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland, whose
excellent work he became aware of when he first became involved in working
on domestic violence as a serving RUC Officer.
Martin Bradley, Director of Health Care for the Western
Health & Social Services Board, welcomed Women’s Aid commitment to a
partnership approach with statutory and other voluntary agencies.
Concentrating health resources on acute services will not suffice. The
community needs to be involved in identifying and meeting a wide range of
needs. Domestic violence is among those key priorities.
“While the AGM is about reflecting on the achievements of the
organisation, it is also about facing forthcoming challenges and turning
the vision ‘to eliminate domestic violence’ into a reality” said Angela
Courtney, Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland’s director.
The Annual Report shows that the Helpline received a total of
15,640 calls from women and agencies on behalf of women experiencing
domestic violence. This is an alarming 15% increase on last year’s
figure. Analysis of call statistics indicates that the Helpline’s busiest
times are overnight, bank holidays and school holidays. This reflects that
women and agencies are becoming more aware of the 24 hour nature of the
service and accessing support and information when other services are
closed. Clearly the Helpline is a critical factor in the network of
support for women and children who are experiencing domestic violence and
ensuring the sustainability of 24-hour cover through adequate resources is
essential. The Helpline has recently implemented a text phone facility,
which ensures that people with hearing impairments have equal access to
the service. It has also introduced access to Language Line which means
that staff have access to interpreters in up to 100 languages when
receiving a call from a woman who does not speak English.
The Annual Report also highlights the essential services of
the local Women’s Aid groups throughout Northern Ireland who provided
emergency accommodation for 1,174 women and 1,412 children in refuges.
These groups were also able to respond to over 20,000 information and
advice calls and over 5,000 women from their local communities used their
resource centres for courses, on-to-one sessions and aftercare support
In the coming year Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland will continue to respond to the
changing social, political and funding environment. We will continue to
work to ensure that tackling domestic violence is central in all policies
and procedures that are relevant to moving forward to a peaceful and just
society in which women can take part with confidence and free from the
fear of violence in the home.
The Women’s Aid 24-hour domestic violence Helpline (02890
331818) invites calls from women and agencies.
Copies of Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland’s Annual Report and Statistics are available
Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland is a voluntary organisation that exists to challenge attitudes and
beliefs that perpetuate domestic violence. We seek through our work to
promote healthy and non-abusive relationships. This is done via a
24-hour Helpline, training, lobbying, campaigning, publications, policy
and partnership development and fundraising initiatives.
There are 10 local Women’s Aid groups throughout Northern Ireland who
provide refuge, aftercare, outreach, training, support and advice for
women and children who are experiencing or have experienced domestic
Since 1989, Women’s Aid has accommodated 11,082 women and 16,986
children in Northern Ireland refuges.
Women’s Aid Helpline has responded to 60,685 calls since it was
established in 1995.
24 HOUR HELPLINE : 0800 917 1414 (Minicom and Language Line available)