Cases of domestic violence and abuse in Manchester are at an ‘all-time high’ as support services warn that demand is showing ‘no sign of abating’.
Almost 2,500 high risk referrals – including children – were made to professionals in the city in 2020/21 – a 67 per cent increase on the 1,459 cases recorded in 2018/19.
Manchester council, community outreach services and GP practices have also recorded a rise in the number of domestic abuse victims seeking help during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The pandemic has helped to shine a ‘sharper light’ on the issue according to Manchester council officers, with the Domestic Abuse Bill becoming law in April – four years after it was first promised by former prime minister Theresa May.
While the government has pledged £40m towards supporting victims of rape and domestic abuse during the pandemic, councillors have been warned that the funding acts as a ‘sticking plaster’ instead of a long-term solution.
Councillor Joanna Midgley, Manchester council’s executive member for health and care, told colleagues on the communities and equalities committee that the city was committed to reducing instances of domestic abuse.
“We are committed to supporting people who have experienced domestic abuse, particularly children, and we want to provide the appropriate support for people to rebuild their lives, live healthily and safely without fear,” she said on Tuesday.
“That isn’t without its challenges. We have got money to implement the Bill but it’s fairly short-term, and we have some uncertainty about what will happen after 2022.
“What we need from the government is a really coherent system of funding so we can provide the services people need.”
The meeting also heard from Saheli, a project which offers shelter and support for women from Asian and other marginalised ethnic communities stuck in violent domestic situations.
Established in 1976, the organisation has a custom-built hostel in Manchester offering 10 emergency beds and also provides joint services through local food banks.
The organisation receives more than 5,000 calls a year, according to its chief executive Priya Chopra.