4 Apr 2020

Women's Refuge sees high demand during Covid-19 lockdown

5:39 pm on 4 April 2020

Women's Refuge says lockdown worries and family strains are resulting in high demand at many of their services right now.

Dr Ang Jury CEO of Women's Refuge

Women's Refuge chief executive Ang Jury said services are still operating and more than 60 percent of them have reported increases in requests for help. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Chief executive Ang Jury said more than 60 percent of refuges have reported increases in requests for help.

Dr Jury said their services are still operating and Covid-19 safety plans are in place, including using more alternative accommodation outside of safe houses, at places such as motels.

"If you feel unsafe, leave, walk out of the house, yes we're in lockdown but your bubble isn't supposed to be an unsafe place, reach out for police, get a neighbour to reach out to police, call us, we can produce another safe bubble for you."

The spread of Covid-19 is causing enormous uncertainty and stress, and during lockdown people are isolated from social structures and outlets like work, school, and time with family and friends, she said.

It also meant staff had to work differently, she said.

"They're working in a way that is totally foreign to refuge workers generally, you know there's a fair bit of hugging and there's comforting kids and all those sort of things, we can't do those now so we are having to adjust to delivering refuge services in a very different way."

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Dr Jury said being kind to each other includes checking in on those who are vulnerable, by phoning them to see how they are doing and to see if they are safe.

Earlier Jury said people at risk in lockdown should set up a safe word with a friend that can be texted or mentioned in conversation, to discretely indicate they need help if they are worried they might be overheard in calling for help.

Chief Victims Adviser to the government, Dr Kim McGregor earlier said it was important that people knew that even though the country is in lockdown, services to keep everyone safe were still operating.

She said violence is still a crime and it is okay to leave your home if you are unsafe to get to a place of safety.

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