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Live webchat with Women's Aid about the impact of cuts on vulnerable women and children, Thursday 13 December, 1.30pm

(70 Posts)
AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 11-Dec-12 13:11:27


This year, we're going to be featuring the 'Saving Survivors' Services' campaign from Women's Aid over the Christmas period.

As many of you will know, Women's Aid is a national domestic violence charity, which helps up to 250,000 women and children every year, and supports over 500 domestic and sexual violence services across the country.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact cuts and welfare reform will have on vulnerable women and children.

A recent survey of their member organisations revealed that 1 in 5 is facing financial difficulties that will result in the reduction or loss of local refuge services.

Their Policy and Services manager, Deborah McIlveen, will be answering general questions on domestic violence, on Women?s Aid work in protecting women and children, what funding cuts mean for services, and how Mumsnet members can help to protect them.

So please join us here on Thursday 13th Dec at 1.30pm for the chat. If you can't make it then, as ever, please post up your advance questions here.


WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:42:20


We've been today to drop off some toys for our local WA for their children to have Christmas presents at their Christmas grotto, another thing threatened by cuts. What has struck me is that because of the stigmas and difficulties discussing violence against women and children it is very difficult to get people talking and helping. We had hoped other parents at school would have liked to donate too but this was not met with enthusiasm because of WA being for domestic violence and people not wanting their children to be introduced to this concept. It meant that it was only us who did it and although my daughter was praised for her kindness (it was her idea to give toys mine to give to WA) in school they would only mention that the toys were for "a charity". It really frightens me that actually WA is going to find it much much harder than more popular charities to make up funding cuts because of these issues, I'd like to know whether this is happening more widely than my small anecdote and if so are there things we can do to help?

Women's Aid is concerned that all children are introduced to the concept of DV from preschool through all stages of education. It is very common. One in Four women will experience it at some point in their lives and current research with teenagers shows that 40% of young women are experiencing DV in their teenage relationships.

Schools can and must play a key role in helping children and young people grow up to have healthy relationships.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:43:32

To continue my last point. Schools can provide support and sanctuary to children that have DV going on in their homes.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:44:53

A pack for working with children and young people called 'Excpect Respect' is downloadable from the Women's Aid website (for any parents who may want to raise it in their local schools)

Offred Thu 13-Dec-12 14:46:10

That's great Deborah, thank you. I will raise it maybe with my local council rather than my individual school.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:49:27


It really frightens me that actually WA is going to find it much much harder than more popular charities to make up funding cuts because of these issues, I'd like to know whether this is happening more widely than my small anecdote and if so are there things we can do to help?

Yes you are right. We find that a lot of people prefer to give to Donkey sanctuaries than to DV charities. However, we keep on going and fortunately for Women's Aid fantastic young men such as Jahmene (X-factor runner up) are prepared to speak out about their experiences of growing up with domestic violence and campaign to support us.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:53:54


What happens to those 320 who had to be turned away?

They may have to wait. As a point of interest local authorities have a duty to accommodate anyone in fear of violence. If refuge spaces are not available a local authority should provide in an emergency. However, I think that many domestic violence survivors (nor the general public) are aware of this duty.

Local authorities do not advertise this fact because it costs them money to provide this temporary accommodation. But the law is clear that they do have to provide emergency accommodation in the short term, and in the longer term if they are satisfied that the person is fleeing violence/ at risk.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 14:55:36


I had support from WA, was offered a place in their refuge, had emotional support and help filling in forms. It made things SO much easier during an extremely scary time. thanks

That's great to hear, glad you found it helpful. I hope things are better now.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 15:03:54


I'd like to ask about support for children and families who have gotten out of an abusive relationship but are still subjected to their ex partners attempts to abuse and control via issues such as child contact, and maintenance.

Yes Women's Aid is exceedingly concerned by the numbers of ex partners who use child contact as a way to perpetuate the abuse and control. Women's Aid is working with government and lobbying to get family court proceedings to provide appropriate safety and protection when issuing contact orders where there is DV.

Despite Women's Aid campaigning and lobbying that resulted in Lord Justice Walls issuing a practice direction to ensure safety and protection for adult and child survivors in family proceedings. We are concerned that current government proposals seem to be overlooking the priority of the safety and needs of the child with their proposals on 50:50 shared parenting.

Women's Aid believes that of course children should have relationships with both parents but only so long as it is safe. Feedback from the national network tells us that this is not the case.

AbigailAdams Thu 13-Dec-12 15:08:46

So the Government (and the Law) are still not making the connection between abuse of spouse and abuse of children.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 15:09:45

To add one more point to my last response; Women's Aid research showed that 70% of women experienced post separation harassment. Whilst it is really important that survivors are enabled to leave violent relationships it is also vital that appropriate safety and support is available from all agencies involved in responding to domestic violence survivors.

Professionals in health services, the police, criminal and civil courts, education, housing, welfare, must be trained to understand the needs of adult and child domestic violence survivors and how to manage the risk posed by perpetrators in order to provide appropriate service responses when working with their different client groups.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 15:13:58


So the Government (and the Law) are still not making the connection between abuse of spouse and abuse of children.

No they are not! We are working with various organisations such as: Rights of Women, Legal Aid lawyers, The Interdisciplinary Alliance for Children, to try to change this.

Things are looking quite gloomy under this government, for children in particular. It's not fair.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 15:18:29


- how much does it cost to run a refuge for a year ?
- what is the current shortfall of places to women seeking placements
- what do you think of the public consultation on new sentencing guidelines for sexual offences ? Would you support minimum tariffs ?

There is no one answer to this question as there are so many factors. For example who owns the property? How many rooms are there? What level of service is provided?

Women's Aid will be responding to the consultation on the new sentencing guidelines for sexual offences and will post a draft response on the website as soon as we've had time to consider it properly

Offred Thu 13-Dec-12 15:19:15

I think the govt are not even attempting to adequately provide for abused partners actually nevermind making the connection between abuse of spouse and abuse of dc. My experience in family court was that my dc had to be put through abuse again in order for it to be proved to the court because they hadnt seen how my xp had previously abused them. This was supposedly so that they could then be protected in the court orders which is utterly ridiculous and damaged my little boy hugely because I was effectively made to put him into a position where he would be harmed. Redefining domestic abuse to include 16 - 17 year olds and adding things about coercion is needed but pointless when nothing except the stuff that has been reported and followed through (out of only the small groups of things which are reportable) triggers eligibility for dv provisions, just like putting provisions in place to help partners but assuming that children will not be victims is stupid. It seems to be all about reducing the level of help available and not about helping victims of abuse, a lot of the punitive reforms like universal credit, workfare, CSA charges etc will very badly effect dv victims.

WomensAid2012 Thu 13-Dec-12 15:22:47

Thank you all for all of your questions and interest in this issue! Please do come on our website whenever you want for further information about how to get support for adult and child survivors, or information about Women's Aid campaigns, and information on relevant government issues. Really good to speak to you all here at Mumsnet, and it's great to know that there are people out there who are interested and doing stuff about it!

InNeedOfBrandyButter Thu 13-Dec-12 15:46:12

How will universal credit and the cap on benefits effect WA? I know with my experience I had double HB on my flat and the refuge as if I had given up my flat I wouldn't of escaped that awful place supposedly a refuge the council would have seen my case as intentionally homeless.

FivesGoldNorks Thu 13-Dec-12 18:40:45

sorry i missed this, bookmarking to read in full later

neilthecarpetcleaner Thu 13-Dec-12 22:04:57

hi all

Springhasarrived Fri 14-Dec-12 09:02:38

Very sad to see how few posts there are on this thread. Perhaps it would have been better to hold it in the evening? It's a bit of a contrast to Hugh Grant the other night. sad
In my experience of accessing services related to DV there are too many organisations who are not "joined up" and victims are left floundering around trying to find help when what they need is the first point of contact to take hold of the situation for them.
In many many times of trying I never got through to Womens Aid, Vicitim Support were worse than useless, and the Police try their best but are hampered by organisational limitations.

Offred Fri 14-Dec-12 09:13:09

Yes, I agree. The bloody Hugh grant (user of prostitutes=abuser of women) web chat hype really bothered me. As far as issues go phone hacking of celebrity's phones is really small compared to the massive problem of domestic violence. I feel sorry for milly dowler's family but I also feel angry that celebrity rights have pushed those issues to the back of the press surrounding leveson.

NettleTea Fri 14-Dec-12 14:04:44

Out of interest i would be keen to find out what proportion of divorces or seperation is down to DA/DV.

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