Yorkshire residents sought to offer their spare rooms for women fleeing domestic abuse

A charity is calling on Samaritans in Yorkshire to offer their spare rooms as emergency accommodation for women escaping domestic abuse.

The York-based organisation IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) says it needs kind volunteers to come forward to help, as the North faces a crisis over the lack of shelters for victims.

Its launch of the initiative named Safe Havens this week now seeks those with spare rooms to come forward so they may provide a temporary refuge for women and children fleeing violence and abuse at home.

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It comes as a report issued by police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) warns of an "epidemic" of violence against women and girls and called for agencies to work together to tackle what it called a "deep-rooted" societal issue.

A charity is calling on Samaritans in Yorkshire to offer their spare rooms as emergency accommodation for women escaping domestic abuse. Picture: Getty
A charity is calling on Samaritans in Yorkshire to offer their spare rooms as emergency accommodation for women escaping domestic abuse. Picture: Getty

In the report, commissioned by Home Secretary Priti Patel, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said "the prevalence and range of offending and harm" was "stark and shocking".

“Offending against women and girls is deep-rooted and pervasive in our society," she said.

"Urgent action is needed to uproot and address this and police cannot solve this alone."

IDAS said it would provide training to anyone who offered up their spare rooms for victims fleeing abuse and that volunteers would be helping some of society's most vulnerable people "plan a safer future".

A charity is calling on Samaritans in Yorkshire to offer their spare rooms as emergency accommodation for women escaping domestic abuse

“Escaping an abusive partner or family member is rarely straightforward. It takes tremendous bravery and courage," said Anna Dinsdale, local area manager for the charity.

"The IDAS Safe Havens hosted, emergency accommodation project aims to provide people with the option of short-term respite and relief in addition to our refuge accomodation.

"Safe Havens hosts will play a key role in assisting their guests by making them feel safe and welcome in their home, giving them time to consider their next steps.”

One woman, who has previously experienced domestic abuse and was helped by the charity, said she would have been able to avoid "eight years of pain" had the scheme been available to her during an abusive marriage.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “If I had known what help was out there when I was trying to leave, things would have turned out very differently for me.

"I was young and very scared of my then husband. My family not only did not recognise the abuse but wanted me to stay with my husband."

She added: “I wish I could have taken my daughter and run, even just for a few days to get my head straight, but I had nowhere safe to go and he’d threaten me with awful things if I tried.

"I know now that IDAS would have helped, and I could have avoided eight years of pain. Being offered a safe place for a short time might have made all the difference to me and I’m sure it will make all the difference to people who are trapped with abusers now.”

The project is initially taking place in North Yorkshire and the charity is offering information sessions for members of the public who are interested in becoming hosts.

All volunteers will be police checked and receive training and full support from Domestic Abuse Practitioners and the project coordinator.

Anyone suffering from domestic abuse can contact IDAS on 03000 110 110 or Refuge on 0808 2000 247. Police should be called on 999 in an emergency and press '55' if you cannot speak.

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