Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland

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Embargoed 2nd October 2002




Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation (Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland) recently launched their Annual Report 2001-2002
pdf logoat 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 etc. 

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 on request. 



Notes to Editors 

  • 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 violence.
  • Since 1989, Women’s Aid has accommodated 11,082 women and 16,986 children in Northern Ireland refuges.
  • The 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)