CIVIC chiefs are working with organisations and charities to give victims of domestic abuse somewhere to go for help during the coronavirus lockdown.

Campaigners have warned that government restrictions related to self-isolation and social distancing are heightening domestic tensions and cutting off escape routes for victims.

According to figures from UK charity Refuge, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline has received an increase of 25 per cent in call and online requests for help, while Refuge’s own website has seen a 150 per cent rise in visitors since the COVID-19 crisis started.

Southampton City Council is working with a number of organisations, charities and support groups to ensure that victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse have a safe place to go during these uncertain times.

A commitment made by the council’s Housing Service to support those living in council-owned homes.

As a Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accredited service, members of staff have been trained as Domestic Abuse Champions to provide specialist support, advice and help.

Councillor Dave Shields, Cabinet Member for Healthier and Safer City, Southampton City Council, said: “This is a difficult time for everyone, but especially for those who are experiencing domestic abuse.

"Not being able to see family and friends who might normally provide support, or access services, can leave victims and perpetrators feeling very frightened.

"But I want people to know that help is still available and that we’re doing all we can to carry on supporting you.

"We’ll get through this together – please pick up the phone or go online when it’s safe to do so.”

For people who are, or feel a neighbour could be, in danger, they should always dial 999.

The ‘Silent Solution’ system is in place if a person is unable to speak.

After dialling 999, and hearing an automated message, callers are prompted to press 55 which will transfer them to the police.

A call handler will then assess the call and arrange help if needed.