Funding crisis forcing domestic abuse charities to put women on ‘waiting list to be safe’

‘Huge sense of frustration’ as groups struggle to provide support to women and families in need, says charity boss

Thomas Kingsley
Monday 18 October 2021 16:54
<p>Nicole Hurley, 37, who was stabed to death in Primrose Hill, north London</p>

Nicole Hurley, 37, who was stabed to death in Primrose Hill, north London

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A charity has called on more support for local authorities to tackle violence against women and girls following the alleged murder of a mother in four in north London.

Nicole Hurley, 37, was found with stab wounds at her home in Broxwood Way, Primrose Hill, in Camden on 10 October. Despite efforts by paramedics, the mother of four was pronounced dead at the scene. Police arrested Jason Bell, 40, also of Broxwood Way, and have charged him with murder and false imprisonment.

Ms Hurley’s death has sparked fresh calls for more government action to tackle violence against women and girls. Benaifer Bhandari, chief executive of domestic abuse charity Hopscotch, which supports women who are victims of abuse and violence, told The Independent that there is “a huge sense of frustration” as groups struggle to provide adequate support to women in need.

“In February, we had to stop our awareness building workshop where we work with groups of different communities offering peer support, building their understanding of abuse and staying safe. When the money runs out that’s one of the first things we have to stop doing,” Ms Bhandari said.

“It means we have a waiting list and just saying those words makes me feel sick. You shouldn’t have a waiting list to be safe or your children being safe,” she added.

Ms Bhandari said increases in abuse throughout the pandemic and also the complexity of cases, has further intensified challenges.

The incident comes only weeks after the killing of 28-year-old schoolteacher Sabina Nessa and the sentencing of former Met officer Wayne Couzens for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Jamie Klingler, a Camden resident and co-founder of women’s campaign group Reclaim These Streets, called the death of Ms Hurley “devastating” and called on the government to respond with “real action.”

“All the solutions they have proposed are predicated on a knight in shining armour turning up to stop someone murdering me,” she said, adding: “The people that are hunting us like we’re big game aren’t going to be put off by a hotline. It needs to be men changing.”

Following the sentencing of Couzens, the Met police were criticised for suggesting that women should wave down a bus if they get stopped by an officer they don’t trust.

Mourners pay tribute to Sabina Nessa

Home secretary Priti Patel also backed a plan for a new helpline which would allow women feeling unsafe to have their journeys tracked and an alert triggered if they do not reach their destination in time. Campaigners have said the helpline amounts to “putting a plaster” on the issue of male violence.

Georgia Gould, leader of Camden Council paid tribute to Ms Hurley in a council meeting, saying: “I know that we will make sure that we remember her name and her tragic death is a painful reminder of why the work to protect women and girls is just so important. Violence against women and girls is an epidemic.”

Ms Bhandari called on the government to provide more funding for local authorities so they can support groups like Hopscotch.

“Local authorities have their finger on the pulse, they have the stats, they know the demographic, they know the geographical layout. They know what they can handle and what they can give to groups like Hopscotch to handle, they know our specialism. If they had the resources to support us, you would see a huge reduction. There cannot be any other way,” Ms Bhandari said.

The Independent approached the Home Office for comment.

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