Cross government response to tackling domestic and sexual abuse during Covid-19

Date published: 26 June 2020

Health Minister Robin Swann, Justice Minister Naomi Long, and Communities Minister Caral Ni Chuilin are reminding people that if anyone is at risk of, or experiencing domestic or sexual abuse, help is still available.

Minister Swann said: “We are acutely aware of how difficult lockdown has been for those affected by domestic abuse. We want people to know that they are not alone and that help continues to be available 24/7.  

“The Department of Health has provided Women’s Aid with an additional £60,000 to provide an initial care package for families who have experienced, or been a victim of, domestic abuse. This package will provide food parcels, home based resources and games for families, including laptops and mobile phones.

“Safe spaces are now available for victims of domestic abuse in Boots pharmacies if anyone is worried about being overheard on a call at home.”

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “I have stressed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic that I want anyone who is feeling afraid within their own home because of domestic abuse to know that they have not been forgotten. We are also mindful, as lockdown restrictions ease, that the most dangerous time for victims is when they try to leave.

“We continue to progress our strategy and will shortly be publishing our year five action plan. Our three Departments continue to work together to ensure essential services can continue to operate effectively during covid-19 and remain fully available. For example, the 24hr Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline received an additional £20,000 at the start of the pandemic.

“Additional Guidance has also been published so that people can easily access, in one place, the contact details for different support organisations at Justice-ni/publications

Minister Ni Chuilin stated: “Victims of domestic violence and abuse often feel they are on their own, with nowhere to turn but I can assure them that support is available.  The provision of safe and secure accommodation is undoubtedly a top priority when considering fleeing an abusive relationship.  Covid-19 has brought this in to even more stark reality for many as we have used our homes as our place of safety during this time.  My department has increased temporary accommodation places available for victims of domestic abuse and provided additional funding to refuges.”

Welcoming the additional £60,000 provided to Women’s Aid, Fran O’Boyle, Area Manager of Women’s Aid ABLCN said: “This is absolutely tremendous news to be able to get this extra funding. This will help us to support women and children that are most in need and will make a huge difference for them.”

“If anyone is in immediate danger they should phone the police on 999 and, if it is difficult to talk, use the ‘silent solution’ by pressing 55 when prompted.”

The 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline can also be contacted on 0808 802 1414. This is a free and confidential service available to both women and men. Web chat is also available at or email

Notes to editors: 

1.  For information on Women's Aid visit or call 028 9024 9041, and for the Men’s Advisory Project (MAP) visit or call 028 9024 1929.

2.  Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or via

3.  All Department of Justice media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office by emailing 

4.  All Department of Health media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Health Press Office by emailing

5.  All Department for Communities media enquiries to DFC Press Office at

6.  The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

7.  Follow us on Twitter @Justice_NI; @healthdpt; @CommunitiesNI

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