Since the UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown began on 23rd March, there has been a 49% increase in calls and online requests for help relating to domestic abuse. Commenting on this startling statistic, Bishop John Sherrington, who chairs the Domestic Abuse Group of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, said: ‘Violence of this kind should never be tolerated or justified. It is an offence against the dignity of the human person.’
In response, on 29th April the Bishops' Conference issued guidance on how Catholic parishes can support victims of domestic abuse during the pandemic. The guidance includes information about how parishes can raise awareness, stay in contact with victims and signpost them to organisations who can safely help, and how to work with local domestic abuse services.
Bishop John Sherrington explained: ‘Every person has a right to live their life free from violence, abuse, intimidation and fear. Catholic parishes can play an important role in fighting the scourge of domestic abuse, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where we are seeing some shocking statistics from leading domestic abuse organisations.
‘Every local situation will differ and so our new guidance is designed to be used as an introduction to start a local project. I hope that Catholics and parishes will be inspired to take this up in their local area.'
Acknowledging the critical work of agencies that are supporting domestic abuse victims, he added: 'My thanks go to those organisations and individuals already working so hard to ensure that people suffering domestic abuse can live safe lives.'
Further information is available on the Bishops' Conference website.