Over 370 cases of children trapped in violent homes reported in West Midlands since lockdown began - The Rugby Observer

Over 370 cases of children trapped in violent homes reported in West Midlands since lockdown began

OVER 370 cases of children trapped in violent homes in the West Midlands have been referred to authorities by the NSPCC since lockdown began.

From April to August, the NSPCC Helpline made 374 referrals on this issue to agencies in the West Midlands, including police and local authorities.

The children’s charity also revealed calls to its helpline about children living with domestic abuse had increased by almost 50 per cent across the UK since national lockdown measures were introduced.

The figures are echoed by the experiences of NSPCC frontline teams and child protection agencies which have adopted the charity’s Domestic Abuse Recovering Together (DART) service to work with mothers and children who have suffered domestic abuse at home.

One caller to the helpline who wanted advice about their neighbour said: “I sometimes hear the toddler crying as the parents are fighting. It pains me to think the child is having to live like this – can you help?”

Over the summer, the NSPCC and other charities successfully campaigned for the Government to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill and recognise the damaging impact domestic abuse can have on children.

With the bill expected to have its Second Reading in the House of Lords next month, the charity is calling for an amendment that will place a statutory duty on local agencies to provide community-based services for children experiencing domestic abuse.

Emily Hilton, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the NSPCC, said: ‘‘By amending the statutory definition in the Domestic Abuse Bill, the Government has taken the important step of recognising the profound and long-term impact domestic abuse can have on children.

“They should underpin this by creating a statutory duty on local agencies to provide specialist community-based services for children impacted by domestic abuse. This must be backed up by funding for local agencies.

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on children who are living with the daily nightmare of domestic abuse. Now more than ever it is crucial the Government grasps the landmark opportunity offered by the Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure children get the protection and support they need.”

The charity also wants to expand the DART service and is asking other organisations to get in touch if they can help deliver it.

Over the last decade the NSPCC has supported more than 2,000 women and children across the UK with its DART services, and around 600 have also been helped by other organisations who have been licensed to deliver the service.

Tilly (name changed to protect her anonymity) and one of her sons were referred to DART after sustained domestic abuse by her husband culminated in an attack that left her with a broken nose and cuts to her wrists.

She said: “I didn’t see myself as a domestic abuse victim, but I agreed to attend the two-hour sessions, once a week for ten weeks.

“In week one I didn’t have much to say, but when we got to week five the DART group looked at the controlling and isolating side of domestic abuse, and it hit me that my life had been terrible for years and I was a victim on domestic abuse.

“I realised that there had been a breakdown of communication between my son and I. DART really has helped me and my son a lot. The NSPCC saved me and saved my relationship with my son.

Recent analysis shows that families attending the DART programme with organisations the NSPCC have trained to deliver it can achieve the same positive outcomes as families attending the service when delivered by the NSPCC.

Organisations interested in delivering DART can get in touch with Claire Burns by emailing [email protected]

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