Solace calls on London MP’s and Mayoral candidates to make the city a safer place for women and girls and step-up to show their commitment.
Against a backdrop of rising domestic abuse and stalking, sexual abuse in schools, women not feeling safe on the streets; and the alarming regularity of women dying at an average of three women each week, be that at home or on the streets like Sarah Everard, the common factor is male violence.
At Solace we are running at crisis levels with calls to our advice line in March rising by 117% compared to March last year. Our busiest month since the pandemic began. For Solace and the women and girls we support the crisis is not over. In fact, the level of violence and demand for services shows no sign of slowing.
We need to end this once and for all. To help us do that we ask that the people that represent us, the policymakers and influencers, Take the Pledge to:
- Develop and implement a new London violence against women and girls (VAWG) strategy for 2021-24.
- Make London a safe city for migrant survivors.
- Implement fairer funding to ensure specialist support for VAWG survivors.
- Prioritise long-term, safe, affordable and suitable housing for VAWG survivors.
Three mayoral candidates had signed the pledge by the time of launch:
- Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrats
- Mandu Reid, Women’s Equality Party
- Shaun Bailey, Conservatives
As with all specialist VAWG organisations, 2020/21 has been the toughest yet in our 45-year history. We saw demand for our services spiral and then fluctuate in line with the restrictions associated with the Coronavirus pandemic. In September 2020 when schools reopened, we saw a 138% increase in calls to our advice line compared to April 2020 at the beginning of the first lockdown. Referrals to our refuges increased by 53% over the last year and when women do get through to our services, we are finding their mental health needs are higher and more complex than before the pandemic.
Women’s safety from male violence is the number one issue concerning women in London and all over the country. The murder of Sarah Everard allegedly by a serving Metropolitan Police Officer shortly after International Women’s Day has been an additional catalyst for women sharing their experiences of harassment and abuse across the UK, with London in the spotlight with revelations that 119 allegations of sexual misconduct against Met police officers were upheld between 2012 and 2018. The Everyone’s Invited project has reignited a public debate about the peer-to-peer sexual harassment, violence and abuse girls are subjected to in and out of our schools.”
“Ending violence against women and girls must be a priority for the next Mayor of London and Greater London Assembly.”