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World News

‘Absolutely transformative’: Christian charity praises Govt ‘flee fund’ for abuse survivors

by Heather Preston

The government’s new initiative to provide financial support to victims of domestic abuse could "transform lives", according to Christian charity Restored, which found rates of domestic abuse are as high within the Church as they are outside of it.

From the end of this month, hundreds of survivors in England and Wales are set to receive cash payments to help them flee abusive situations and rebuild their lives.

People can apply for an initial amount of up to £500 to get themselves to safety followed by a second payment of up to £2,500 to help cover essentials such as groceries, rent and other bills.

The £2M scheme has been described as a 'lifeline' for many across the country.

Bekah Legg, CEO of domestic abuse charity Restored tells Premier: “This is absolutely transformative. It's such a welcome scheme, something that's never really been done before by a government.”

Legg explains that financial insecurity prevents many victims from fleeing abuse:

“There’s this common misconception that if the abuse is that bad, people would just leave. It is never that simple - there are all kinds of things that leave people feeling trapped, but one of the biggest is finance.

“[£2,500] would pay for a deposit on a house, pay for some transport to leave or towards replacing things that you have to leave behind when you have to run. I think this is an extraordinary thing that is happening.”

A pilot of the project ran in 2023, providing grants of £250 - £500 to 600 victims. It found 80 percent of applicants used the funds to flee to a safe location, as well as to buy food, clothing and other essentials.

People will be able to apply for the “flee funds” through their local domestic abuse agencies as part of a referral system.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, 2.1 million people aged 16 years and over experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2023.

Legg says churches have a role to play in raising awareness of the issue and ensuring victims are supported.

“Recognise it happens in your church. We've done some really thorough research together with various universities and discovered the rates of domestic abuse are the same within the church as outside.

“But Christians take longer to let somebody know, because of the stigma, and their concerns and whether or not they'll be believed.”

Legg advises church leaders to acknowledge this issue could be present in their church and to seek out training and resources to equip them in tackling the issue.

Restored has a number of training resources on domestic abuse that can be found here.


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