What is it?
The charity Women’s Aid has launched an online petition urging the government to preserve funding to specialist refuges for women survivors of domestic violence, as well as a corresponding social media campaign to encourage as many people as possible to sign.
The campaign is mainly focused on Twitter, where the charity is posting links to the online petition using the hashtag #saverefugessavelives, along with infographics illustrating the shortage of bed spaces. Supporters are also being asked to share SOS signals – images of themselves holding up messages about why they are backing the campaign.
New research by Women's Aid shows that the UK currently has 3,660 spaces in refuges, but needs 5,387 to meet demand – a shortfall of 32 per cent. According to the charity, 48 per cent of 167 domestic violence services in England say they are running services without funding, with six of these saying they are using up their reserves to keep their services going.
The Women's Aid report says there is significant public support for these services, with 61 per cent of voters saying they thought the government should do more to preserve the national network of domestic violence refuges for women and children, and 59 per cent saying the government should do more to ensure funding support for this group.
Who has supported it?
The charity has been hard at work tweeting celebrities and politicians to ask them to sign. Supporters so far include the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, the actress Fay Ripley and the children’s TV presenter Anna Williamson. At 4pm on the second day of the campaign, the petition had gained 2,454 of its target of 3,000 signatures.
What else is happening?
What the charity says
Neate says: "Perpetrators of domestic violence will do everything they can to control their victim, which is why specialist support services are essential to help women escape and build independent lives.
"A national network of support services that allows women to get help locally or escape the area as they need is essential to protecting women and children."
Third Sector verdict
This is a great example of how charities can use social media to raise awareness and support for their causes without the need for a potentially expensive video or other form of advertising campaign. It's also good to see the chief executive getting directly involved in the campaign by posting on Twitter and contributing opinion articles. The infographics are powerful, especially this one illustrating the words survivors of domestic violence use to describle what refuges mean to them.