A BBC investigation has discovered that just nine out of ten domestic violence refuges for women are inaccessible to people with physical impairments, after issuing Freedom of Information requests to 210 councils.
The report also revealed that 20 refuges across the country have no accessible spaces, while only 11% of domestic violence refuge spaces are fully accessible.
Carmarthenshire and Solihull councils, two of the 131 councils who responded to the BBC’s Freedom of Information requests, said that all of their refuge spaces were accessible to people with physical impairments, but 20 of the councils responded that they had no wheelchair accessible refuge spaces, including the London Borough of Lambeth.
News of the report came a week after the Office for National Statistics revealed that people with long-term illness or disabilities were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse in the last year compared to those without. Men were 6.3% more likely to experience all forms of domestic abuse, while disabled women are 10.5% more likely. Women with long-term illness or disabilities are also more likely to experience non-physical abuse and indecent exposure, or unwanted sexual touching, compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
Speaking to the BBC, a member of Women’s Aid’s No Women Turned Away project said: “Sometimes if you’ve worked with somebody for three, four weeks and you still haven’t found anything and you’re phoning up saying, ‘ever so sorry, but there’s no space again now’.
“It can be very upsetting.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine