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North Wales domestic abuse service sees 77% increase in demand

Gorwel is marking White Ribbon Day by highlighting the shocking growth in demand for its domestic abuse services.

Gorwel is the part of North Wales housing association Grŵp Cynefin that provides services to people experiencing domestic abuse.

White Ribbon Day sees people across the world show their commitment to eliminating violence against women and girls.

Osian Elis, Chief Officer at Gorwel says: “This year’s theme for White Ribbon Day is #ChangeTheStory and this is exactly what our services help survivors of domestic abuse to do. We have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for the services we provide in Anglesey and Gwynedd. Between July and September last year, we helped 165 people in their own homes who were experiencing abuse. This year that figure is 293. This is a 77.6% increase in one year.”

Asked why he thought this was the case, Osian says: “This is one impact of the cost-of-living crisis. For us, the problem is that our resources are limited too. We haven’t had an increase in the funding to provide these services for a number of years, so each year we have to do more with less. It is now becoming untenable. We are committed to helping women and girls #ChangeTheStory but to do that effectively, we have to be adequately funded.”

Service user Jen says that Gorwel’s support saved her life: “The services are invaluable,” she says. “My support worker saved my life. She helped me take back control and start writing my own destiny. I couldn’t have done that without her.”

Joyce Watson, the MS for Mid and West Wales champions White Ribbon Day in Wales and is founder of the Assembly’s anti-trafficking group. Ms Watson says: “I applaud Gorwel for the work they are doing to support survivors of domestic abuse. These figures are shocking and simply not acceptable. 1.7 million women experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2022. This pattern of violence damages families and communities and can cascade through generations. We all have a part to play in changing the story, and we must not stop until everyone can live fear-free.”

Unfortunately, many organisations across Wales are facing funding pressures. Cymorth Cymru and Community Housing Cymru are running the #HousingMattersWales campaign to highlight what is happening.

Katie Dalton, Director of Cymorth Cymru says: “The majority of support providers across Wales are reporting an increase in demand for their services. Costs of delivering services have increased by 11% this year, yet funding has decreased by £24mn in real terms since 2012.

“75% of support providers are subsidising contracts that are supposed to be funded by the Housing Support Grant, which is completely unsustainable. It is clear that the Welsh Government needs to increase the Housing Support Grant to ensure these vital services can continue to deliver this often life-saving support to people across Wales.”

Gorwel is commissioned by Anglesey and Gwynedd councils to provide domestic abuse services.

A spokesperson for Cyngor Gwynedd says: “We recognise the important work carried out by Gorwel, offering vital support to those experiencing domestic abuse in the county. On this White Ribbon Day, the Council stands in solidarity with the campaign against violence towards women and girls. In Gwynedd the issue of homelessness and the growing impact of the cost-of-living crisis have become more pronounced in recent years, closely associated with a surge in domestic violence figures. This highlights the crucial role that support services play in helping those in vulnerable situations.”

Isle of Anglesey County Council’s Director of Social Services, Fôn Roberts, added: “Our staff are committed to working in collaboration with a range of partners to tackle the issue of domestic abuse and meet the needs of the growing number of people facing such a devastating situation across the Island.”

Jen is an example of the importance of these services to women. When asked what her advice was to other women, she says: “Don’t let fear stop you, pick up the phone and the support will help you turn your life around. I felt like a bird whose wings had been clipped. Gorwel helped me heal and now I’m proud to take flight.”


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