Leeds Rhinos star backing campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse

Leeds Rhinos star Jamie Jones-Buchanan is backing a campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse after a rise in the number of cases reported to police during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunday, 29th November 2020, 6:00 am

Mr Jones-Buchanan joined Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan and other senior figures from across the city who took part in a short video produced by the council for this year’s White Ribbon and 16 days of action campaign, which ends on December 10.

Paul Money, chief officer for Safer Leeds, and The Rev Canon Sam Corley of the Diocese of Leeds also appear on the video to raise awareness of domestic abuse and encourage men to promise that they will not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

This year has seen a much bigger spike in domestic abuse cases due to the restrictions enforced during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, which is a key focus throughout the video.

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Jamie Jones-Buchanan Photo: Phil Daly/Leeds Rhinos/SWpix.com

Although levels of reporting reduced at the end of the first lockdown, they still remain higher than at the start of the year.

There is greatest concern for those people and families who are not making contact with services and who may be in very risky situations.

In September, Mr Jones-Buchanan spoke of his family’s devastation over the stabbing to death of his cousin Bethany Fields.

The Super League club’s assistant coach spoke after Miss Fields’ former boyfriend Paul Crowther was given a life sentence for the manslaughter of the 21-year student from Bramley.

Crowther, 36, from Birstall, near Batley, “ambushed” Miss Fields in Huddersfield on September 12 last year and stabbed her with a kitchen knife after she ended their relationship.

Mr Jones-Buchanan said her death had inspired him to become closely involved in a domestic violence campaign which was launched earlier this year.

Mr Jones-Buchanan, a trustee of the Rhinos Foundation, said he was trying to get the message across that domestic abuse should not be tolerated and urged victims - and abusers - to seek help too.

Nationally, one in five five offences recorded by police during and immediately after the first national lockdown in England and Wales involved domestic abuse, figures show.

Police recorded more than a quarter of a million offences flagged as domestic abuse-related over April to June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The 259,324 offences represent a rise of seven per cent from the same period in 2019, and an 18 per cent rise from two years ago.

The ONS said the number of offences flagged as involving domestic abuse has been increasing over recent years, so it cannot be determined whether the rise is directly due to the pandemic.

Coun Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said: "We know this year has been difficult for everyone and for many people the coming months will present more challenges and trials, including a greater risk of suffering domestic abuse.

“During the pandemic, we have sought to provide all communities with information about the help available to anyone that is suffering from domestic abuse, including those who are speakers of other languages and people within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities.

“Campaigns such as the 16 days of action and White Ribbon awareness day are more important now than ever to ensure everyone is aware of the terrible impacts of domestic abuse and violence and where to provide and seek help for themselves or for others, especially during these times where social contact is reduced."

Sally Egan, Women’s Lives Leeds Strategic Development said: "We’ve been working with Safer Leeds to find ways we can amplify the 16 days of action campaign and wider awareness of the work we’ve been doing to support women and girls within the current restrictions.

“Although this year it will be an online-only campaign, it has been a really positive experience, with everyone generously offering to share content and support in spreading the message as wide as possible.”

Seacroft Local Care Partnership has also committed to an ongoing programme of training and awareness raising with staff and citizens to offer support for those who have been affected. This will also involve increasing the availability of safe spaces and enable more support to those seeking safety and refuge from abuse.

To find out more, contact [email protected]

George Winder, Seacroft Primary Care Network Clinical Director and GP said: “As a GP I was alarmed to see how the lockdown was increasing the suffering of victims of domestic abuse and their families.

"The launch of the work is crucial to helping support these individuals and families and although it will coincide with the 16 days of action, the team recognise this issue is not going away and it will be a focus of support for the community going forward."

- For help and support with Domestic Abuse and Violence, contact the 24 hour LDVS helpline on 0113 246 0401 or visit their website- https://ldvs.uk/If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999 or visit https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/report-it/report-domestic-abuse for the online reporting form.

For honour based abuse and forced marriage, contact Karma Nirvana 0800 5999 247.

For support for those who are concerned their behaviour is causing harm, contact Respect on 0808 8024040

UK SAYS NO MORE is also working with Boots UK, Superdrug pharmacies, Morrisons pharmacies and independent pharmacies across the UK to provide Safe Spaces in their consultation rooms for people experiencing domestic abuse.

You can access a Safe Space by walking into any participating pharmacy in the UK and asking at the healthcare counter to use their Safe Space.

To find your nearest safe space, visit https://uksaysnomore.org/safespaces/