For most, Christmas means spending quality time with family and friends. But for thousands of women it offers only more of the same: fear of violence and abuse from their partner.
To help tackle the biggest social issue facing women and children today, Refuge has launched an advent calendar with a difference.
Each day, people can click on the windows of the digital calendar, learn about the plight of the thousands of women and children fleeing abuse, and take action to help them.
Behind the window on 2 December, Refuge shared the story of Rachael Slack who, along with her 23-month-old son Auden, was stabbed to death in 2010 by her ex partner.
The charity asked people to purchase a pair of Hush Pyjamas, to help women like Rachael escape abuse. Out of every £60 pair sold, £52 goes to the charity. That money is the equivalent of one night’s stay for a women and her child in a refuge.
Behind window four, Refuge described the work it does supporting victims of modern slavery, some of whom have been forced into prostitution and raped up to 10 times a day.
The charity called on people to help fundraise money to continue providing vital services, helping these people escape and find support.
Overall, the charity estimates it will support 6,000 women and children this Christmas, providing not just a place of warmth and safety, but the opportunity to enjoy the festive season.
Sandra Horley, the charity’s CEO, said: “This Christmas, 340 women and children will be waking up in one of our shelters. Across Refuge’s services we will support almost 6,000 people.
“But for every woman and child safe with us, there are hundreds more in urgent need of support. No matter how many women and children we support; there are hundreds more who need Refuge.
“We rely on public support for so much of the good we do. Christmas is a time of giving, and I hope that #RefugeAdvent will raise awareness of the enormous challenges facing women this Christmas. I hope the public will play its part in supporting our work; knowing that by working with Refuge they can help us to save lives.”
Visit Women’s Aid – support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Line for advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse – 0808 801 0327
Victim Support – Visit victimsupport.org.uk or call 0808 168 9111 Sexual Abuse Referral Centres – Find a SARC
Rape Crisis – Visit rapecrisis.org.uk or call 0808 802 9999 The Rape and Abuse Line – Visit rapeandabuseline.co.uk or call 0808 800 0123 (answered by women) or 0808 800 0122 (answered by men).