1. ITV Report

Round the clock helpline launched in Plymouth as fears grow for those at risk of domestic abuse in coronavirus lockdown

The coronavirus lockdown is a cause for concern among domestic abuse organisations. Credit: PA images

A 24-hour helpline has been launched by a domestic abuse service in Plymouth due to fears more people are at risk in the coronavirus lockdown.

Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service has warned the pandemic - which has forced most households into self-isolation - could result in a rise in domestic abuse rates.

Katy Fisher, who works for the service, said so many victims seek help and comfort from friends and family, but the opportunity for this is now "very likely to be gone".

There is support out there for everyone affected by domestic abuse. Credit: PA images

With fears that the next few weeks and months could have damaging consequences for those confined with abusive partners, the team in Plymouth is determined to remind people that support is still there.

As a result, they have introduced a 24-hour helpline to help those at risk as much as possible during this unprecedented lockdown period.

Abusive partners aren't going to be going to work, they're not going to be going out like they normally would, so they (those being abused) are not able to make these phone calls. Sometimes we have families that drop the children to school and then get support from a teacher or parent advisor. That's not going to be happening either so they're not going to be able to gain the support that they probably desperately need at this time.

– Katy Fisher, Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service

The service has also raised concerns about the children of abusers who are mostly at home now because schools and nurseries have been shut down.

The service is also worried about the children of abusers, who are now mostly at home too. Credit: PA images

Katy, and her support team in Plymouth, want to remind people that even though they are not operating in their normal way, support is and always will be there for victims.

Yes absolutely, there is support. So just because we're not operating in the way that we normally do, it doesn't mean there are not people there. We've introduced a 24-hour helpline so victims of domestic abuse can call us at any time of day.

The theory behind it is that the usual nine to five is not going to be an option for them - so it may be that later in the evening, if they get a window of opportunity that they feel is safe, they can ring us.

– Katy Fisher

The message to victims of abuse is: if you're a woman, man or child living with an abuser - know that support is out there right now, day and night.

If you, or anyone you know is at risk, there are organisations that can offer help and support: