The pandemic has shaken the ground beneath our feet and has turned the world upside down. With such significant and heart-breaking changes affecting the lives of everyone around the globe, more prominence is being given to coping with the destruction of Covid-19. Thus, it has been easy to forget and neglect certain long-established issues and concerns, such as domestic abuse.
The UK’s Rail to Refuge programme, has gained some recognition since its launch in March 2020. Domestic abuse which has not only prevailed but has notably worsened during the pandemic, has left many victims in desperate need of lifesaving support and access to refuge. Rail to Refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies, to provide free train travel to those who are fleeing domestic abuse, allowing them to seek refuge accommodation. The initiative was inspired by Darren O’Brien, a station manager.
Women, men, and children who find themselves in abusive situations, are required to reach out to domestic abuse services such as Women’s Aid and Men’s Advice Line UK. These services will refer them to refuge accommodations and once confirmed, the refuge will book a free train ticket for the victims to flee from their violent abusers.
Since its launch, an estimate of 1,348 people have used this service, 362 of whom were children. Nearly 62% of these survivors admitted that they would not have been able to travel if their journey had not been paid for, because they were economically abused and did not have access to a bank, credit cards or cash. Victims are generally advised to seek refuge far away from their abuser. However, fleeing an abusive environment can be difficult, especially when most of these individuals do not have the means to pay for long distance travel expenditures and do not have access to ask for help – creating a barrier to freedom.
Rail to Refuge is a lifesaving scheme that has protected so many domestic abuse victims, who are now survivors. Help raise awareness of this programme, so that victims are aware that there is help out there, and that they can escape and seek refuge. Not all hope is lost.
Donate here to support survivors of abuse.