Victims of domestic abuse who need emergency travel to escape to a shelter in another town will not have to pay for their travel, the train companies have announced.
The lockdown has made living in an abusive relationship even worse than it would usually be. Victims will often be in lockdown with their abuser, unable to get breathing space. It will be harder to text or phone to get support from friends and family, and from specialist support services. Child survivors will no longer have the respite of school or nursery, which can often be a safe space to access support.
Domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid says that it has experienced over a third more people visiting their Live Chat site compared to normal since the lockdown started.
People escaping domestic abuse are usually advised to seek refuge services at a considerable distance from their perpetrator, but for many, raising the cash to pay for a train ticket can be very difficult. This is especially true for people experiencing economic abuse, who may have no access to cash.
The ‘rail to refuge’ scheme aims to remove this barrier by offering free train tickets for women or men, and their children, to travel to a recognised refuge. From today, survivors can access the tickets through the member services of Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid and Imkaan, once they have received an offer of a refuge place.
Members of these organisations can book the tickets via a bespoke booking system for the people they are referring to, or receiving in, their refuge accommodation.
The nationwide scheme follows on from a project introduced on Southeastern trains last year, and joined by GWR last month. The nationwide rail to refuge scheme will be in place for approximately 12 weeks, or for the length of the lockdown.