UK news Women and children escape domestic abuse in Cambridge Uni housing last minute news
MetiNews.Com - One woman said the housing played an "important first part of my new journey of my future happiness"
Breaking News ! Women and children escaping domestic abuse were housed by a university college over the summer. Cambridge Women’s Aid and St Catharine’s College worked together to provide 1,456 nights of safe accommodation to those escaping domestic abuse this summer. During the height of lockdown, there was an acute shortage of refuge spaces for those escaping domestic abuse. As a result, temporarily vacant college accommodation was offered to the charity free of charge as a ‘pop-up refuge.’ Angie Stewart, chief executive officer at Cambridge Women’s Aid, said: “It is hard to describe how touched we were to receive such a generous offer. “Not only did the pop-up accommodation at St Catharine’s provide a sanctuary to women and their children at a dreadful time in their lives, it also meant we actually provided an enhanced service during lockdown instead of a reduced service as was common for many UK organisations.” She added: “This partnership gave my team breathing space to work out a lot of practical challenges associated with Covid-19 and gave us time to discover new ways of working that will stand us in good stead going forward. “I would welcome the opportunity to discuss partnering with other organisations in Cambridge who have space available due to Covid-19 or other reasons.”Between April 27 and September 3, 23 women and children stayed in the college accommodation, which had a team of porters on hand 24/7 and CCTV in operation. One woman who stayed in the college, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “I am incredibly grateful to St Catharine’s for their thoughtful kindness. Visiting school pupils usually stay at the college over the summer. (Image: Alice Boagey) “At the moment I can’t find the words to explain what it has meant to me and my daughter, and the psychological safety it has offered us. “Obviously I know this has only been able to happen for us and other women and children because of Woman’s Aid. I am deeply thankful to you, as are my family.” Another woman said to the college: “I really believed I would have to live out my life with my husband’s misery and abusive behaviour. “You all played an important first part of my new journey of my future happiness.
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Of those currently experiencing domestic abuse, 91 per cent of them said the pandemic had exacerbated the situation in some way. The abuse worsened during lockdown for 61 per cent of women living with their abuser, and 68 per cent said they had no one to turn to during lockdown. Usually, St Catharine’s offers accommodation in properties across the city centre for students during term time.Between terms, the college provides rooms to school pupils for open days and residential activities designed to encourage and widen participation in higher education, or rooms for conferences, all of which moved online or were cancelled. However, in March, students were advised to return home if they were able to.
The college grounds.
(Image: Cambridge University)
Properties still occupied by students were not offered to Cambridge Women’s Aid, and it was jointly agreed that the partnership would end before students started returning to the city this autumn. Sir Mark Welland, master of St Catharine’ College, said: “While the outbreak of Covid-19 had a profound impact on everyone’s lives, survivors of domestic abuse faced a particularly dire situation. “I am immensely proud that the St Catharine’s community could join together with Cambridge Women’s Aid to devise an imaginative way to offer support and safety to these women and children when they needed it most.” If an organisation would like to find out more about partnering with Cambridge Women’s Aid, visit cambridgewa.org.uk/contact.php.