Saoirse preparing for further surge in calls

By William O'Connor

The “new normal” of combined work-home could mean ongoing constraints for women and children living with abusers, according to Saoirse.

 Ellen O’Malley Dunlop. Acting CEO said: “Saoirse is preparing for what we anticipate could be a further surge in calls on our services by women and children who have been in lockdown with their abusers for the past nine weeks and who may now finally find the space and freedom to reach out for help, as the country begins to open up.

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Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, Acting CEO of Saoirse

 Saoirse along with services throughout the country, is now reconfiguring to ensure that it can provide the best levels of safe and professional support for women and children. 

 Over the lock-down period, initially there was a drop in the number of callers to the helpline, however the numbers went back up and the service found itself working with more women on their own.

 

This was concerning for us regarding the lack of women with children contacting the services.”

 Trish Cole, Manager of Saoirse Womens Refuges said: “We have been concerned that women with children may have been tolerating abuse and coercive control through the weeks of strict lockdown for the sake of the children.

With more space and freedom, we hope that these women can get an opportunity to reach out for the safety and protections they need.

 “Our services have been open and have been operating throughout this crisis and as the country begins its first phase to open up, we continue to be available now more than ever.

We believe that many women may have been living with intolerable control and abuse over the past two months. 

It is important that they know that we are here and that we can support them to be safe in their own homes, or help re-home them if this is what is needed.”

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 Ellen O’Malley Dunlop went on to say that: “Saoirse, along with services throughout the country, has become more united in its resolve that the sector ‘cannot go back’ to the way things were operating.

Covid-19 has exposed the fragility of the sector and the deep fault lines that have existed for decades in the state’s response to domestic violence.

Saoirse has been advocating for women fleeing from domestic violence during Covid-19 to be able to receive rent supplement, for example, which has so far been denied by Government.

 “Covid 19 could mean that the ‘home-work divide’ will be reconfigured in the long-term, raising serious issues for the risk and invisibility of domestic violence.

 “What we now regard as ‘the private’ may be radically changed with technology likely to reconfigure our lives utterly.

We have to seriously consider if the future will put further stresses and constraints of these combined spaces for many women and children. We have to be prepared to respond to this new normal.

The fractured and piece-meal state response to domestic violence has to be addressed now.”

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