Safe Ireland, the national development and co-ordination body working to eradicate domestic violence, have reported that throughout 2021 its refuge services remained ‘heavily reliant on public donations and the benevolence of free emergency hotel bed-nights from Airbnb which came to an end in July 2022.’
The co-ordinating body says that during the period June 2020 to June 2022 its joint initiative with Airbnb provided 4,533 bed-nights for 355 women and 301 children with the average stay per family unit amounting to 11 nights. Whilst this was welcome, it also ‘demonstrates the need for more capacity in the system.’
In 2021 and 2022 Safe Ireland also says that it ‘operationalised a generous cash donation from Airbnb as an Emergency Fund, which provided women with immediate access to cash to finance purchases essential for a safe exit.’
As many women in abusive relationships have no financial agency, Safe Ireland is calling for a waiver of means-testing for the Exceptional Needs Payment for an initial period of three months and for the introduction of referral pathways via local domestic violence services.’
Safe Ireland has outlined its concerns on these and other matters related to failures in Government policies in its pre-Budget submission, published today.
The submission also notes that during the Covid19 pandemic 19 new women and 3 new children contacted a domestic violence service for the first time every day and that ‘in the first six months of 2020 a total of 33,941 helpline calls were answered across the country — an average of 184 calls every day.’
Other data revealed by Safe Ireland shows that in 2021 there were 744 breaches of Barring Orders, a year-on-year increase from 514 in 2017.
Domestic violence services continued to see high numbers in 2021 and through the first six months of 2022, during which time the national deficit and geographical voids in emergency refuge units also came into sharp focus.
Safe Ireland say that ‘despite this (and widespread political rhetoric about prioritising violence against women) commitments to investment in domestic abuse responses were entirely absent from Budget 2022.’
Ireland is currently experiencing a severe and sustained housing crisis, and the accommodation shortage has been exacerbated by both the arrival of almost 50,000 Ukrainian refugees to Ireland and a sharp increase in migrants claiming asylum.