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Robert Jenrick pledges more than £76m for charities to help domestic abuse and trafficking victims in England

The government has pledged more than £76m in a new funding for charities to help survivors of domestic and sexual abuse and victims of modern slavery in England.

Speaking at the government's daily coronavirus briefing at Number 10, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the Domestic Abuse Bill going through parliament will ensure victims "get the priority need status that they need to access to local housing services much more easily".

He added that anyone who needs to call 999 but can't speak needs to press 55.

Mr Jenrick said it will be fully-funded - ensuring that no one has to choose between staying somewhere they know is unsafe or becoming homeless.

The new funding comes as reports of domestic abuse sent to UK police forces by Crimestoppers have surged by nearly 50 per cent during the lockdown, while Hestia has seen a 47 per cent rise in victims using its free domestic abuse support app Bright Sky.

Boots pharmacies create 'safe space' for domestic abuse victims seeking help during pandemic. Credit: PA

Announcing that victims of domestic violence will get priority access to local housing, Mr Jenrick said: "For some in our society these measures involve sacrifices that none of us would wish anyone to bear."

He added: "For victims of domestic abuse it means being trapped in a nightmare."

"The true evil of domestic abuse is that it leaves vulnerable people including children living in fear in the very place where they should feel most safe and secure: inside their own home."

It comes as victims of domestic abuse will be able to seek help in Boots pharmacies in a bid to make it easier for them to access support during the coronavirus lockdown.

Safe spaces will be installed in Boots consultation rooms from Friday where survivors can contact domestic abuse support services, the charity Hestia said.

The scheme has been launched by the charity's UK Says No More campaign in response to increased challenges faced by victims who are forced to isolate at home with perpetrators.

The Bright Sky app was launched in 2018 to help people affected by domestic abuse. Credit: PA

Among the measures to support domestic violence victims, Mr Jenrick also said on Saturday they would get “priority need” status for access to local housing.

Mr Jenrick added: “As a father of three girls, I cannot even imagine women and young children being put in this situation.

"But they are.

"We must be alive to the reality of what is happening in all too many homes across the country.

"I want us to defend the rights of those women and those children wherever we can, and that is what we’re going to do.”

He said the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill, which had its second reading in Parliament last week, would create "the first ever legal definition of domestic abuse".

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