Since the start of the pandemic, Edinburgh Women’s Aid (EWA) has seen an increase in the number of women using their services by almost 10 per cent due to factors including financial insecurity, social distancing, and limited access to friends and family.
These factors have made both escaping from an abuser and recovering from abuse even more difficult for women and children, according to the charity.
To enable EWA to continue to protect and keep victims of domestic abuse safe, the charity is calling on all political candidates in the run up to the elections to pledge their commitment to providing specialist services for women, children and young people affected by domestic abuse in Edinburgh.
They are also urging members of the public to speak to their local candidates and ask if they have signed EWA’s pledge and if they are committed to supporting the charity to end domestic abuse.
Linda Rodgers, chief executive of EWA, said: "Demand for our services is increasing year on year and the provision of specialist support is vital to help women, children and young people to recover from their experiences.
“We believe it is imperative that the voices of women and children affected by domestic abuse are heard by elected representatives, which is why we are asking them to pledge their commitment to the provision of specialist services for women, children and young people affected by domestic abuse in Edinburgh.
"We are also urging people to speak to their local candidates at the door or in meetings, and ask if they have signed our pledge and if they are committed to supporting us to end domestic abuse, as without our services even more women and children's lives would be seriously at risk in the city."
EWA, which remained open throughout the pandemic, increased its hours of operation and introduced new ways of supporting women, including developing a webchat service.
The charity also worked in partnership with other agencies to address the increased risks and trauma of those affected by domestic abuse.
EWA continues to provide services for children and young people as well, including outreach support in schools, delivery of the Children Experiencing Domestic Abuse Recovery [CEDAR] programme, offering access to therapeutic counselling for women, art therapy for children and specialist housing advice. They are also running a pilot legal project that enables access to family law solicitors without the need for legal aid.
Ms Rodgers said: “Edinburgh Women’s Aid has been at the heart of delivering services to help protect women and children who have experienced domestic abuse in Edinburgh for almost half a century.
"Our support has been consistently available in the city and we have been learning and developing our services over the years in response to what women and children tell us they need to keep them safe from their abusers.
"During the pandemic we worked tirelessly and flexibly to meet the needs of women and children in Edinburgh.”