The number of refuges for Fife victims of domestic abuse has been increased after a surge in calls for help during lockdown.
Fife Women’s Aid (FWA) said requests for refuge accommodation more than doubled between March and April this year, from 14 to 38.
The charity has also reported an increase in the number of people calling its support line for the first time.
Fife Council has worked with FWA to provide the charity with a further six places of refuge to offer more women and children living with domestic abuse somewhere safe to go during the coronavirus crisis.
It brings the total number of refuges across Fife to 41.
Refuges are currently being equipped with internet access to prevent families fleeing abuse from becoming cut off during lockdown.
Kate McCormack, manager of FWA, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Fife Council to increase refuge availability so that families on our waiting list can move into safe accommodation.”
She added: “This has been a challenging time for everyone and, as one of the frontline organisations, FWA had to be responsive and adapt quickly to the new environment created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We want to let families know that support is still available and would advise them to make contact and seek assistance when it is safe to do so.”
The charity said its support line was available as usual and it was continuing to respond to urgent requests for assistance.
Ms McCormack said FWA was also keeping in telephone contact with families and offering practical assistance for those unable to go out and buy food.
It was recently announced that Scottish Women’s Aid would receive £1.35 million from the Scottish Government’s Communities Fund.
“We are extremely grateful for additional funding from the Scottish Government and some generous donations we have received that are helping us to do this as well as for an award from the Women’s Fund for Scotland for equipment for refuges, which is enabling us to provide a tablet for each refuge,” added Ms McCormack.
Labour councillor Judy Hamilton, who is convener of the council’s community and housing services committee, said: “Covid-19 presents particular challenges for people and families living with domestic abuse.
“While the advice is to stay at home to protect ourselves from the Covid-19 virus, some people are experiencing isolation.
“Social distancing can exacerbate experiences of domestic abuse, affecting families in unsafe situations with limited access to vital support and escape.
“We’re working with Women’s Aid as we recognise the particular risks of lockdown for those living with domestic abuse.”
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