WALES will not be a bystander to abuse, and inequality and survivors should be leading the conversation and government’s plans.
That is the view of deputy minister and chief whip Jane Hutt MS.
Speaking during No More Week – a week to raise awareness of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence – Ms Hutt wants the country to educate themselves on the signs of abuse and how to safely help victims.
She also wanted to make an important message clear to those who are currently or have been victims: “Do not feel alone, we are here to support you, wherever and however you need it.”
“We want to create a culture across Wales where people recognise the signs of abuse and know how to help safely. International Women’s Day was on Monday, March 8 with the theme of Choose to Challenge. We’re committed that Wales will not be a bystander to abuse and inequality.
“Our aim is to create a culture across Wales where people are empowered to actively help prevent violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, a culture where Wales is not a bystander to abuse.”
She also believes that people like Rachel Williams from Newport are vital in helping people to speak out and get help, as well as providing guidance for how best for the government and public to help and support victims and survivors.
“Rachel Williams hosted an event in 2019 that gave us the chance to hear from victims and survivors talk about their experiences and how they would like to see further cases handled.
“We have to listen to people who have experienced it if we want to get the right balance.
“Everybody knows there are survivors and those are the ones that can show us how we can help.”
It is a cause close to Ms Hutt’s heart as she was women’s coordinator for Welsh Women’s Aid before going into politics. “This led me into politics and now I have the chance as minister to do something about it.
“International women’s day is a chance to celebrate achievements and how far we have come but also to see how far we have to go to get equality for women.”
Ms Hutt highlighted a number of services available from the Welsh Government all year round, including an increase in funding to support the services.
A campaign called ‘Home shouldn’t be a place of Fear’ was re-launched on Monday, March 8 to remind victims, survivors and concerned individuals that services are still here to help.
These services include the Live Fear Free 24/7 free helpline for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence, as well as people close to them. Support is available through the phoneline (08088010800), via text (07860077333), email ([email protected]) and live chat on the website https://gov.wales/live-fear-free.
The Live Fear Free message and helplines have been circulated around places where people are likely to gather in large groups, including in pub toilets (when pubs re-open), doctors surgeries, pharmacies and recently at the testing and mass vaccination centres across Wales.
Ms Hutt also wants to highlight the emergency service’s silent help. By dialling 999 in an emergency but you are unable to speak, you can press 55 and it will alert the control room that you are in a dangerous situation that leaves you unable to speak and help will be able to be dispatched.
Another important service – which ties in with the Choose to Challenge theme, is the e-learning module which has given 50,000 people in Wales more information on domestic abuse and sexual violence including how to recognise the signs.
More than £4 million additional funding has been given to the violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) sector to deal with the impact of Covid-19 – which has seen many more victims spending more time at home with their abusers.
The money is an extra 67 per cent compared to last year. There will also be an additional £1.575 million funding for 2021-22 to allow the umbrella organisations to provide further support to deal with the increasing demand on their services.
The budget for the VAWDASV in 2021-22 is £6.825 million.
For more information on domestic violence or abuse, visit https://gov.wales/live-fear-free. If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.