Urgent help needed as domestic abuse cases surge in Milton Keynes during lockdown

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A charity that helps more than 100 Milton Keynes families a day suffering from domestic abuse and fear has appealed for help as figures escalate during the coronavirus crisis.

MK Act has spent the past 45 years providing safe emergency accommodation for women and their children escaping domestic abuse in the city.

They have today put out an urgent plea for financial help so women and children can be safely removed from violent and abusive partners during lockdown,.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Across the country domestic abuse is soaring as victims are trapped in their homes and feel helpless to escape. Figures in the UK show that there were 12 deaths reported in five days from domestic abuse. Normally in the UK, two women per week are murdered as a result of such abuse.

Coercive control is a form of abuseCoercive control is a form of abuse
Coercive control is a form of abuse | Getty

Already the National Domestic Abuse Helpline has seen a 25 per cent increase in calls from women stuck with abusive partners during lockdown.

Last year the MK Act, which is a member of Women’s Aid national charity, supported more than 1500 people in Milton Keynes through its refuge and outreach support services.

Chief executive Sue Burke said: "We are already seeing the government’s advice on self or household isolation is having impact on women, men and children experiencing domestic abuse.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Home is not likely to be a safe place for survivors of domestic abuse. Social distancing and self-isolation are being used as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour by

This is the hotline number to callThis is the hotline number to call
This is the hotline number to call | other

perpetrators and are shutting down routes to safety and support."

She added: “We want to reassure people that we are open as normal. Following Government advice, our team is now working remotely but very much open for business supporting those who experience Domestic Abuse.

"Our refuge is open as normal and every day we continue to move families out of domestically abusive homes to safety. I’d like to urge anyone who is experiencing abuse to call us, when they are safe to do so.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Due to infection risks, Mk Act can no longer accept donations of food or toiletries for the victims in its care. Instead the charity are appealing for donations to its Last Resort fund.

MK Act will helpMK Act will help
MK Act will help | other

£5 will buy someone suffering from domestic violence a new sim card so they can keep themselves safe and call for help.

"Some of the people we work with have never had access to their own phone before," said Sue.

£10 buys soap, hand sanitiser, paracetamol and cleaning products to help a family in the fight against COVID 19, while £30 pays for a family to flee their home and enter the refuge, which is at a secret address in MK.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

£50 buys emergency food for a family, while £60 pays for an emergency hotel room for families in danger, said Sue.

"Our Last Resort Fund is currently very low, and we do not have the funds that are needed to keep up with the demand. If you can donate any amount it would make a huge difference to allowing MK ACT to get help to families in Milton Keynes who are suffering from domestic abuse," she said.

Click here to donate.

If you are a local company and would like to raise money for MK Act, please email [email protected]Anybody suffering domestic abuse or fear can contact the MK Act team as normal between office hours of 9am to 5pm. All calls are confidential.

The charity's services are:

* Crisis Service Helpline – 0344 3754307 and [email protected]* Professionals Helpline - 01908 295731 and i[email protected]* Refuge Service [email protected] and 01908 523720

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

* Fresh Start - 07718767974 and [email protected]Anybody who feels at immediate risk should not be afraid to call the police on 999 - and then press 55 if they are too scared to speak.

The 55 system is called The Silent Solution, and is specially for for victims of domestic abuse who might be afraid of further danger and escalation of harm if they are overheard when calling 999 in an emergency.

Sue said: "When somebody calls 999, an operator will ask which emergency service is required. If the caller is unable to audibly signal to the operator, the call will be forwarded to an operating system. If 55 is pressed by the caller, the system will detect this. The operator will then transfer the call to the relevant police force as an emergency."

Police have endorsed MK Act's message and reminded people that the force will never tolerate domestic abuse and officers are available 24/7 to provide help and support.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They say that while the government’s advice is to stay at home, anyone who is at risk of or experiencing domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge.

Detective Superintendent Rebecca Mears, Head of Public Protection, said: “You are likely to be feeling more alone than ever right now, but be assured that Thames Valley Police and all local and national agencies are extremely conscious of this and have put plans in place to support you. Reach out, whether it be to the police or another agency that is right for you. We can help you.

“Families, friends, colleagues and neighbours are also encouraged to be vigilant and call the police if they believe domestic abuse is affecting the lives of their loved ones or of their neighbours.”

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber said “Home does not feel like a safe place for victims of domestic abuse and in these uncertain times, I would like to assure victims that support through Victims First and other contracted service providers is available for those that need it. Services have been adapted in line with Government advice to ensure that we can continue to meet victims’ needs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Anyone experiencing domestic abuse and needing support can contact one of the Thames Valley domestic abuse services directly or can make an online referral to Victims First via our websitehttp:// www.victims-first.org.uk www.victims-first.org.uk."