Domestic abuse help available for local residents

Date published: 16 June 2020

People living with domestic abuse can still access support services, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic abuse services in the borough of Rochdale are operating and can offer support with emergency accommodation, safety planning and accessing civil orders like injunctions.

The call comes as Refuge, the charity which runs the national domestic abuse helpline, reported a ten-fold increase in visits to its website in recent weeks, whilst calls to the NSPCC's helpline about the impact of domestic abuse on children have surged by almost a third since the start of the lockdown.

The month of May saw the highest number of contacts to the NSPCC helpline about domestic abuse since recording changed in 2016. 

There are concerns that victims feel unable to get help due to the lockdown restrictions but there are exceptions to the government guidelines to allow access to support for domestic abuse.

In some cases, fears about the virus were exploited to withhold access to children, cut off contact to family and friends, and monitor victims’ movements under the pretext of keeping them safe from the virus. Victims said this made it difficult to leave and speak out.

The NSPCC argues the increased risks during the crisis further highlight the need for the government to amend the law to recognise how the daily nightmare of violence and coercive control can impact on children and why they must have access to specialist support to recover.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is at Committee stage and in its current form fails to do that despite repeated calls from multiple experts, including the Domestic Abuse, Children’s and Victim’s Commissioners, as well as the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Emily Hilton, NSPCC Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer, said: “This crisis has shone a spotlight on children who are living with the daily nightmare of domestic abuse.

“The Bill has the chance to transform the help available for these children; the government should grasp the landmark opportunity offered by the Domestic Abuse Bill and ensure children get the protection and support they need.”

When lockdown began in March, some agencies in the borough of Rochdale, like Rochdale Women’s Welfare Association, saw a drop in domestic abuse referrals. 

The council launched a campaign advertising services in supermarket queues, in pharmacies and on social media. Services have seen a gradual increase in domestic abuse reports particularly to Victim Support, which supports victims who are at high risk of harm. 

Rochdale Women’s Welfare Association is currently reliant on other agencies and self-referrals via telephone, running a helpline Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm for women to contact the service for support: 01706 860157.

Sexual violence advocate Rabiah Sheikh said: “We are concerned that a lot of women will be unable to safely make a call for help whilst being in lockdown with perpetrators, which is evident as we have seen a reduction in calls.”

The borough’s major domestic abuse services have changed how they are working, still operating phone services and will offer outreach to anyone who needs it. Due to additional funding being secured locally, the refuge service has been able to increase its capacity and currently has vacancies.

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture, said: “Our services have been incredible at adapting to ensure they are still providing a vital service to people when they need it most.

“We want people to know that even though life is very different, help is still there. If you are an adult or a child living with abuse who wants help, or if you are committing abuse and want to stop, our services are open to you so don’t hesitate to get in touch.”

If you would like help or advice you can call Safenet on 0300 303 3581 or call Victim Support on 0161 507 9609.

As well as supporting victims, there is help available to anyone who is hurting a loved one. People who are worried about their behaviour can call the national Respect phoneline on 0808 8024040 or contact Rochdale Connections Trust on 07946 651643.

If you're a young person living with violence at home, you are not alone. There are many in your situation and it’s important to remember that the abuse is not your fault and you should not have to live like this. People within the council and police are still here to help you, contact them on 0300 303 0440. You can also talk to an adult you trust or contact Childline on 0800 1111 or

The police are responding to calls about domestic abuse as usual. Dial 999 in an emergency and press 55 from a mobile handset if you cannot speak – this will indicate to the operator that you need the police.

The council has provided training for professionals online so they continue to understand the services available and to spot the signs of abuse through their limited contact with people. 

Watch the training video here



For information and contact details for the support available to domestic abuse victims and perpetrators visit This includes information on the specialist services available for perpetrators, LGBT+ people and for specific issues like honour-based abuse.

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