EXTRA funding has helped boost domestic abuse and sexual trauma services in North Yorkshire and York as demand soared during the pandemic.

The trauma groups at the Women’s Wellness Centre in York were close to capacity before lockdown and extra funding of £5,000 helped the charity to increase staff hours and buy workbooks and tablets to ensure everyone could still reach trauma therapies remotely.

The money is part of the Ministry of Justice’s £76m to help vulnerable victims through the Covid-19 pandemic. It was awarded by Julia Mulligan, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire through Changing Lives.

Debra Cowey, Area Manager said: "During lockdown the demand on the service has dramatically increased. The impact Covid-19 has had on the most vulnerable people in our society is devastating. We have seen an increase in sexual exploitation, sexual violence, physical violence, and domestic abuse during lockdown. It is extremely concerning.

"The financial support from the crime commissioner allowed us to increase staff on a temporary basis to cope with the increased demand. This service has proved essential to safeguard our most vulnerable and help with people’s mental well-being. For some people, the Changing Lives staff were the only connection they had during lockdown.

"This project is crucial to ensuring vulnerable women are able to continue accessing vital support."