PROTESTORS have taken to the streets of Hereford to urge the Government to ensure there is sufficient funding available for emergency accommodation for domestic abuse victims during lockdown.

The protest in High Town on Saturday (May 9) came a week after similar demonstrations in cities including London and Birmingham, amid calls for more help for those fleeing homes due to domestic abuse.

Herefordshire Women’s Equality Group said its members "used their daily exercise allowance to take quarantine compliant public action".

The national campaign 'some women need to walk' comes after a spike in domestic violence rates during the coronavirus lockdown.

Figures show calls and contacts to the national domestic abuse helpline were up by 49 per cent in the week prior to April 15.

Chayn, a domestic abuse project, reported that visits to its website in March 2020 had trebled compared to the same month in 2019. The Men's Advice Line also saw an increase of 16.6 per cent in calls.

Jane Jackson, from Herefordshire Women’s Equality Group, said: "The Government have announced £76 million for vulnerable communities, including those living with domestic abuse. But the trouble is, it’s not clear where the money is going.

"The last time the Government announced funding it was for phone lines and online help.

"Helplines are wonderful, but we also want to make sure that enough money is going towards emergency accommodation for those women who need to walk - for those who are most at risk of being killed or injured."

On May 2, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced more than £76 million of extra funding to support most vulnerable in society during the pandemic, including funding for charities to support survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, vulnerable children and their families and victims of modern slavery.

He also said the funds would be used so domestic abuse survivors would automatically qualify for priority need under council duty to relieve homelessness.

He said: "It is essential that the most vulnerable people in our communities continue to get the vital support they need during this pandemic. 

"This multi-million-pound package is a boost for charities working on front line to provide often lifesaving support or services at this unprecedented time. 

"This includes essential support for domestic abuse victims, living in fear in the place where they should feel most safe – their home."

The Home Office recently launched the #YouAreNotAlone hashtag across the UK – a move that was welcomed by domestic abuse charities and campaigners.

Further information and support for anyone worried about domestic abuse:

Women’s Aid Helpline Herefordshire available all day every day: 0800 783 1359

Online chat with a support worker:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 2000 247