Women’s refuges awarded £45,000 as child abuse predicted to rise during lockdown

The East of England Co-op has donated �45,000 to local charities in a bid to support those suffering

The East of England Co-op has donated �45,000 to local charities in a bid to support those suffering from domestic abuse Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP - Credit: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP

The East of England Co-op has made a £45,000 donation to local charities amid fears more children are becoming victims of domestic abuse during lockdown.

Three Suffolk charities will benefit from the donation, which comes after a Women’s Aid survey in April found 67.4% of those asked reported abuse worsening during lockdown.

The Co-op, whose members voted to give more support to young people, decided to help the organisations after the same survey found 64.1% of women in refuge services had children – with many often made to feel angry, guilty, insecure and powerless as a result of the abuse.

Suffolk police has already warned domestic abuse may rise as a result of lockdown as more people unwillingly spend a higher amount of time with their abusers, while the Suffolk Community Foundation – which will distribute the donations to Lighthouse Women’s Aid, Bury Women’s Aid Centre and Orwell Housing’s Liberty Project – has also warned the number of those needing help is expected to rise.

Stephen Singleton, CEO of the foundation, said the charities’ work has never been more needed.

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He said: “The positive results that are achieved by organisation’s addressing issues of abuse have never been needed more than they are today. As the numbers of those needing help increase, as we come out of lockdown, this vital funding could not have come at a better time to re-build local lives.”

It is hoped the funds, raised as part of the Co-op’s dividend scheme, will help fund for a new playground at the Lighthouse’s refuge.

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Sally Winston, Lighthouse chief executive, said: “At Lighthouse Women’s Aid we support children of all ages in the refuge. It is important that we have facilities and equipment for children that are age appropriate, therefore we are truly grateful to the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund as this award now enables us to develop a new toddlers’ playground.

“It is important that we ensure that young children settle as quickly as possible into the refuge when they arrive with us and that they feel safe, as often they have come from traumatic circumstances.”

Niall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Co-op, thanked members for their generosity by donating part – or in some cases, all – of their annual dividends.

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