Local Domestic Abuse Charity Is Using Technology To Support Victims During COVID-19 – SUICIDE PREVENTION MONTH

Preston Domestic Violence Services (PDVS) has faced some tough challenges to continue offering it’s services throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The local charity has provided support for people affected by domestic violence and abuse since it was set up in 1994.

They have continued to offer their services all throughout lockdown by going virtual.

Salma Ali, Manager of PDVS, explains how the charity has coped with the Coronavirus Pandemic:

“Back in March, it was all very sudden having to start working from home. We were able to deliver most of our services apart from two, one was a group program and the other was a counselling service which was run by volunteers and we just didn’t have the time or capacity to set up volunteers working from home. Everything else we were able to do virtually through whatever means best suited the client.”

As with many charities this year, loss of funding has been a concern for PDVS. Despite this, Salma remains positive on the outlook of the charity for the future:

“The other issue we had was with regards to funding. Being a charity, we have to look for funding year on year, we can be secure for a financial year but then have to start thinking about the next financial year. Funding was a growing concern for us, we even had to consider closing the charity or redundancies. Thankfully, we secured the National Lottery Grant, so that’s given us security for this financial year.

“It has been very challenging but we are still here providing the services so that’s a positive. The government announcements were quite misleading with regards to domestic abuse funding, a lot was quite disappointing. They made millions of pounds available to helplines but all that funding went to national helplines so when you’re a small charity, trying to secure funding is really difficult.”

National domestic violence charity, Refuge, have reported a sharp rise in demand for it’s services since the COVID-19 lockdown began.

In May, the national charity said that “calls and contacts to the Helpline have risen to a weekly average increase of 66% and visits to our website (where women can request a safe time to be contacted) have seen a phenomenal 950% rise compared to pre-COVID-19.”

According to Salma, PDVS has not had a huge rise in demand for its services since the lockdown began:

“Initially we saw a decrease in demand, I think because the country was in a panic and we were hearing on the news about so many deaths, that took over everything else. Even our existing users were not really interested in receiving support from us. As things started to settle and people became more used to the situation we were in, then we started to find more people coming forward.

“As yet we haven’t seen a massive rise in demand for our services but we think that’s because things keep changing with Preston going into a local lockdown. We’ve not had the increase that has been reported about national helplines having a surge in calls. We’ve not experienced that and we stay in touch with other Lancashire domestic abuse services and nobody has seen that huge increase.”

A message shared on PDVS social media

PDVS offers a range of services to support domestic abuse victims in Preston. For any more information about the work the charity does, check out their website here.

The charity has a helpline on 01772 201601 which provides advice, support and a listening ear to victims. You can also visit the charities Facebook page here.

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