A campaign to support refuges in Birmingham has received a huge response with generous donations received to help victims of domestic abuse and violence, who may leave their homes at Christmas.
The â€˜First Nightâ€™ campaign which has been launched by Birmingham Community Safety Partnership for the fourth year running, aims to raise awareness of the frightening and often unpredictable situation that women and children can find themselves in when they decide to leave home. The decision to leave home is a difficult one and while for most people Christmas and New Year is a time of great joy; it can be difficult for those living in fear of violence or abuse.
CllrJess Phillips, Victimâ€™s Champion for the city and Councillor James McKay, Cabinet Member Social Cohesion, Equalities and Community Safety, met with representatives from local refuge organisations and handed over some of the donations received.
Cllr Jess Phillips said: “The response already to this appeal has been overwhelming with generous donations from city council and other partner agency staff as well as members of the public.
“It is important that we do not lose sight of the fact that domestic violence and abuse blights our society, with devastating consequences throughout families, schools, workplaces and communities.Â The City Council is committed to protecting and supporting victims of domestic violence and their children, and will continue to work with Partners collaboratively across the city to address this issue on all fronts.”
â€˜First Nightâ€™ seeks to collect donations of practical items to give to those women and families who will need to leave their homes as a result of domestic violence and abuse, and are being supported in the city’s refuges.Â
There are a range of domestic violence and abuse and sexual violence services available in Birmingham funded and delivered by organisations such as Birmingham City Council and Womenâ€™s Aid. These encompass advice and support through to emergency accommodation and refuge.
Domestic Violence Services help victims in the community as well as providing a network of refuges to support victims and children through emergencies. Last year, over 100 women and nearly 200 children spent their Christmas and New Year in the cityâ€™s refuges having had to flee their homes.
Maureen Connolly, Chief Executive of Birmingham and Solihull Womenâ€™s Aid said: “Refuge is a vital lifeline for many women and children experiencing domestic and sexual violence, providing safe, emergency accommodation, and practical and emotional support.
“Domestic violence and abuse is never the fault of women and children and yet they are forced to make enormous changes in their lives to achieve safety, and it remains to be the biggest single cause of homelessness in Birmingham.
“Over the past year, the cityâ€™s refuge services supported approximately 1,000 women and children, helping to provide the stepping stone into a life without fear. Christmas is a particularly difficult time and donations to the First Night Appeal make a huge difference to local women and children, many of whom will have left everything behind.”
How can you get involved and help victims and children on their first night in refuge?
Running up until January 9, there will be collection points across the city. Items that are most needed include toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and shower gel to name a few. Visit www.birmighamcsp.org.uk/firstnight for more information.
Notes to editors:
1.Â Please contact Natasha Bhandal on 0121 303 8727 or Birmingham City Council Newsdesk on 0121 303 3287.
2.Â Birmingham Community Safety Partnership is a joint partnership between Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police, West Midlands Fire Service and other agencies that work together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour that affects our communities.