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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Women's refuges struggling to cope

The Women’s Aid 24-hour National Freephone Helpline is 1800-341-900
The Women’s Aid 24-hour National Freephone Helpline is 1800-341-900

Jane O'Faherty

Homelessness, loneliness and keeping the family together at Christmas are the biggest problems facing women escaping domestic violence.

Cuan Saor Women's Refuge in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, is one of many across Ireland struggling to provide shelter, as rents in the area continue to rise.

Earlier this year, Safe Ireland found that there was no room for more than 4,000 women and children in 2014 because refuges were full.

Breeda Bell, services manager with Cuan Saor, said Christmas was a particularly hard time of year for victims of violence.

"The fear heightens at the Christmas period for women because it's such an emotional time of the year," she told the Irish Independent.

"Unfortunately, it's constantly full for Christmas."

The refuge in the centre of the town was built to accommodate women and their families short term.

But six-month stays there are now becoming more frequent.

Ms Bell also said there is a "huge sense of loneliness" for many women in abusive relationships at Christmas.

"A lot of the children still love their daddy and don't realise the whole history of what has happened," she said.

One of Cuan Saor's most important tasks is to ensure that those taking refuge have a peaceful and happy Christmas.

"The children expect Santa Claus, and we will go out of our way to make sure that mission is completed successfully," she said.

The Women's Aid 24-hour National Freephone Helpline is 1800-341-900.

Irish Independent

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