Sheffield opens new refuge for domestic violence victims following rise in reported cases

MILLIONS OF pounds have been spent on a new “haven” for victims of domestic violence in Sheffield following a rise in the number of reported cases.

Women and children fleeing abuse at home will no longer have to share facilities following the opening of a new refuge in the city.

Sheffield Council says the £2.5m purpose-built refuge offers self-contained apartments each with their own kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms, which are designed to provide a more homely setting.

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The launch of the new facility comes after South Yorkshire Police revealed that between April 2013 and March this year there were reports of 11,639 incidents of domestic abuse in Sheffield –an increase of 1,164 incidents on the previous year.

Support services, such as Sheffield Area Refuge and Support, which is managing the new refuge, have also witnessed a rise in referrals.

In the last financial year, the number of cases rose to 4,965 – an increase of 699 referrals when compared with the previous 12 months. The crime now makes up more than a quarter of all police work in the city.

The cabinet member for health and care, Coun Mary Lea, said: “We wanted to improve the quality of our refuge places to meet the needs of the women and children that use them.

“The self-contained flats mean that women and their children do not need to share bedrooms and they have the personal space they need, so it’s a massive improvement.

Along with the apartments, there are communal areas in which families can interact. For youngsters, there is a homework room and play facilities.

“The new refuge provides a safe, private and welcoming environment with lots of open space for women to get together,” added Coun Lea.

The chairwoman of Sheffield Area Refuge and Support, Jaqui Devereux, said: “We are delighted with the new refuge which will provide a haven for women and children forced to leave their own homes. We would also like to congratulate the council for demonstrating their commitment to tackling domestic abuse.”