Communications News: Campaign of the week - Women's Aid stressesrefuge needs

Women's Aid has sent the results of its latest domestic violence surveys, which show an 8 per cent increase in the number of women and children using its refuges in England, to relevant MPs and 500 regional and local newspapers.

The surveys, which the charity asked its 342 affiliated providers of shelter or outreach services to complete around its 30th anniversary last November, also show an 18 per cent rise - to 368 - in the number of women fleeing domestic violence who have no recourse to public funds because of their immigration status.

The increase in the number of women and children who had stayed in domestic violence refuges across England brought the totals to 18,569 and 23,084 respectively. The Domestic Violence Services report, from which the figures were taken, will be sent to the charity's network of 500 services, relevant government departments and traditional supporters. It will also appear online and in the charity's quarterly magazine, Safe, next month.

"The surveys are a mainstay of our work with domestic violence," said Myra Johnson, communications manager at Women's Aid. "They enable us to find gaps in our services, and detect priority areas. We now need to get the results in 500 regional and local newspapers."

Another survey, Women's Aid's annual Domestic Violence Census Day, specifically asked questions about 2 November 2004 - the organisation's 30th anniversary.

The census found that on that day, 8,007 women and 8,921 children were supported by a domestic violence service such as refuge housing. Of these, 2,914 women and 3,555 children were living in refuge accommodation; 45 per cent of these children were younger than five years old. Johnson said: "Our refuges are struggling to provide children's services. We have seen a steady erosion of their funding, and don't want those services sidelined."

Johnson said that the charity had delayed sending the 2003 surveys to its member organisations until last year because in 2003 they had been jumping through "enormous hoops" to cope with changes brought by the launch of the Government's Supporting People funding stream.

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