Train companies have come together to help more people escape domestic abuse and reach a safe refuge.
The decision comes as figures show four survivors a day, on average, have been using the lifesaving scheme to access free train travel.
‘Rail to Refuge’ is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation
Since April 2020 albeit a pandemic over 1,300 women, men and children have been helped travel to safety
The initiative was first introduced in September 2019, after one of their station managers, Darren O’Brien, watched a Dispatches documentary ‘Safe at Last’ about Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid.
GWR joined the scheme in March 2020 to offer free travel on its routes as part of its celebration of International Women’s Day.
Andy Bagnall, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Train operators have provided lifesaving travel to four survivors every day through the Rail to Refuge scheme, and it’s right that we keep it going for those who sadly still need it. Rail staff are continuing to work hard helping survivors of domestic abuse with free train travel, while supporting all our passengers to feel safe on their journeys.”
The reason for this extension comes after reports show that abuse had worsened during coronavirus restrictions. Two-thirds (67%) of survivors currently experiencing abuse say that their abuser has started using lockdown restrictions or the Covid-19 virus and its consequences as part of the abuse.
Women’s Aid estimates that in 2019-20, refuge services in England supported 10,592 women and 12,710 children, but demand is even higher.
Demand has increased across the UK to address not only domestic abuse but in addition the rife culture of sexual harassment. With recent shocking reports that among women aged 18-24, 97% said they had been sexually harassed, while 80% of women of all ages said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. According to a YouGov Poll.
If you would like to contribute to help survivors access the life saving support they need and help them reach refuge, please make a donation today: www.womensaid.org.uk/rail-to-refuge.