Recently, West Cork Women Against Violence (WCWAV) published the 80th edition of their ‘West Cork Whisper’ newsletter.
It is immensely practical, thoughtful and clearly laid out and the publication is useful to any and all working / volunteering in the domestic violence sector – no matter where in Ireland you are.
This is not only because the ‘West Cork Whisper’ is the only one of its kind published in the country, but because of the quality of the content.
They are to be complimented on reaching their 80th edition – check it out – subscription details below (it’s free).
In the meantime, Maria Mulholland, co-ordinator of WCWAV, said she is glad to see that domestic violence has become a government priority and she hopes to see the opening of more domestic violence emergency accommodation.
“There was one major benefit from Covid for the domestic violence sector. It exposed the dearth of refuges and safe housing spaces available to victims,” she said.
“Covid highlighted that the old-style, communal refuges are no longer fit for purpose as these were unable to take their normal numbers because of Covid, reducing already scarce places in refuges by 50%.”
The scarcity of emergency accommodation was recently highlighted by Tusla.
Refuges now a priority
Mulholland said, “A recent accommodation review of domestic violence spaces conducted by Tusla identified that at least 60 new units of accommodation are required in 10 locations across Ireland, including in Cork and West Cork. These areas are now a priority.”
In February, the Department of Justice published and sought the public’s views on a new National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Mulholland hopes that this third national strategy will lead to “radical change in prevention, protection, prosecution and policy areas”.
So, how did the projects such as WCWAV handle the increase in demand during Covid? They adjusted like other frontline community groups.
In West Cork they also got a lucky break.
Mulholland said: “We worked remotely, while ensuring we were always on the end of a phone for anyone who called. We placed ads in local press and media to let those who needed us know that the service was still operating and that we were still here for them.
“We worked closely with our local Garda division to devise a process and protocols for transporting women and children to safety.
“Very importantly, we were given the use of holiday homes by owners who lived outside West Cork – for use by those most in need of emergency accommodation due to domestic violence.
“During the lockdowns, we worked longer hours and if truth be told we are still dealing with the aftermath of the increase in domestic abuse due to Covid and lockdown restrictions,” she said.
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