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Harry and Meghan donate new roof to women's ministry following storm damage

by Will Maule
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have funded the building of a new roof at a women's shelter, which suffered damage in a recent storm. The couple surprised the Texas-based Genesis Women's Shelter & Support with a generous donation after the wind and rain caused part of the housing to cave in, causing disruption to their service. 

"We were notified that through the actions of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's nonprofit, Archewell Foundation, Prince Harry and Meghan will make a donation to help us get back on our feet," said the shelter's CEO, Jan Langbein.

"Not only will this gift provide for our critical needs, it shines an international spotlight on violence against women and children, letting survivors know that they are not alone."

According to its website, the Genesis shelter is run by Shelter Ministries of Dallas and exists "to provide safety, shelter and support for women who have experienced domestic violence, and to raise awareness regarding its cause, prevalence and impact".

The storm that struck the facility also burst a number of pipes and did damage to furniture. Thankfully, the women and children inside were evacuated quickly and no one was injured.

Freezing storms have struck Texas in recent weeks, leaving dozens dead and millions without power. US President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency across the region. 

Langbein added that, once the roof is fully repaired, the rest of Harry and Meghan's donation will go towards emergency response needs at the shelter.

"In spite of the devastating winter storms here in Texas, our hearts have been warmed by the support and generosity of people from all 50 states and five foreign countries," she added. 

There has been a significant uptick in domestic violence during Covid-19 crisis, with some experts classing it as a "shadow pandemic". During last year's first lockdown and beyond - from March until June - statistics showed a 7 per cent increase in reported incidents of domestic violence in comparison to the previous year in the UK. 

Women's Aid has said that the lockdowns have made it more difficult for victims to escape their abusers.

In January, the UK government announced a safeword system to make it easier for victims to access help. According to the Home Office, the 'Ask for ANI' scheme allows those at risk or suffering from abuse "to discreetly signal that they need help and access support".

The Home Office added: "By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines." 

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