ConorхЪvisited St Helens domestic violence refuge to meet staff working with victims and to talk about the help and support they provide and the challenges they face meeting victims’ needs.
Helena Extra manage the refuge and this emergency accommodation is just one part of the support available in St Helens which also includes a 24-hour helpline where victims can speak to someone immediately if they need help.
Each year, more than two million people across the country suffer domestic violence, with the victims far more likely to be women.
Conor talked with Jacquie Byrne from Helena Partnerships and other members of the dedicated team of workers at the St Helens refuge about the women and children they help.
He was joined on the visit by local Windle councillor Gill Neil, and Cabinet member for community safety Lisa Preston.хЪ They have been working closely with the refuge recently to help families moving from the refuge back into the community.
Conor heard at first had some of the difficulties they faced, including the problems experienced since the closure of St Helens magistrates’ court and the impact benefit changes have had on domestic violence victims.
Speaking after the visit, Conor said: “You cannot fail to be impressed by the hard work and dedication of the staff at the refuge and all those working with victims of domestic violence.
“They provide safe accommodation for those who need it and invaluable support in helping them deal with the consequences of their partners actions.
“It was, however, concerning to hear about the impact benefit changes have had – something we in the Labour Party warned about when the welfare bill was introduced.
“The introduction of Universal Credit and changes in guidance for tax credits are both having a negative impact on victims and in some cases forcing victims back to their abusers. This cannot be right and is something I shall be taking up directly with ministers.”