With reports indicating that there has been an increase in domestic abuse during the pandemic, Chelsea Foundation brought together domestic abuse charity, Refuge and domestic abuse survivor, Natasha Saunders with Chelsea Women’s Erin Cuthbert and Pernille Harder to discuss the importance of creating awareness for Refuge’s vital work within the UK and highlight how our players and fans can help to create change.
Natasha shared her own experiences with the players and highlighted how, with Refuge’s help, she was able to get the support needed to leave her abusive partner and start her journey to overcome her physical and mental struggles. She hopes by sharing her story, she can continue to inspire and empower other women to come forward and seek help. Natasha has also lent her voice to Refuge’s recent national campaigns, lobbying the Government to change legislations on domestic abuse.
The club has worked closely with the charity and last year Chelsea Women donated their £100,000 prize fund for winning the 2019/20 Women’s Barclays FA Super League to Refuge to demonstrate their support at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Overall the club donated over £500,000 to Refuge last year, thanks to the support of our fans and with Club Owner Roman Abramovich matching all donations.
Chelsea Women’s player Erin Cuthbert said: ‘It was really great to spend time with Natasha and the Refuge team, I left the lunch feeling really empowered. We are sometimes in a little bubble in football, so it’s been good to step outside and hear how strong, women like Natasha are being, and how the money donated is helping to deliver these vital services and really help make a positive difference to the charity and the individuals affected.
'We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Refuge this coming season and play our part in raising awareness for this important cause.'
Bridey Swarbrick Schwarz, Refuge’s Major Donor Manager, also commented: ‘It was a privilege to meet Erin and Pernille. Refuge remains incredibly grateful to the Women’s team and the whole of Chelsea FC for their continued support of our vital services.
'We are committed to highlighting the voices of survivors at Refuge and were so pleased that our ambassador Natasha Saunders could share her story and highlight the real difference Chelsea FC has made to the lives of women and children fleeing domestic abuse.’
Refuge is the country’s largest single provider of domestic abuse services, provides specialist, confidential support to women experiencing domestic abuse. Refuge provides a national network of specialist services which support around 6,500 women and children every day, including emergency accommodation, community outreach, independent domestic violence advocacy (IDVAs), culturally specific services and a team of child support workers.
Refuge also runs the Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, 0808 2000 247, which has seen an increase in over 60 per cent in demand during the pandemic.
The website www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk provides additional support information and an online form where women can request a safe time to be called back, as well as live chat support. This website has seen an increase of more than 950 per cent since the start of lockdown. These numbers demonstrate the sheer extent of need for domestic abuse services and these online methods of accessing support are especially important now when telephoning for help may be more difficult.
Women can also receive automated guidance via Refuge’s techbot on how to secure their devices. Please click here for more information.