Somerset County Council is supporting a scheme which gives free rail travel to people fleeing domestic abuse.
Under the scheme, ‘Rail to Refuge’, train operators will cover the cost of train tickets for anyone travelling to refuge accommodation during the lockdown.
The financial barrier of travel is one of the many things that can make it difficult for someone in an abusive relationship to leave their perpetrator, and whilst using public transport is being discouraged in the fight against coronavirus, for some it can be their only path to a life free from their abuser.
Although the programme is in partnership with domestic violence charity Women’s Aid, the help is available for anyone escaping abuse (women and men, as well as their children). Free tickets can be applied for once someone has received an offer of a place at a refuge. The refuge can then direct them to a special train booking system.
Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Health and Wellbeing, said:” The cost of travel is often a barrier for someone leaving an abusive relationship. The Rail to refuge scheme removes this barrier and further helps support people wanting to leave an abusive relationship. This is one of many ways that we are able to help people experiencing domestic abuse.
“Despite social-isolating and other restrictions brought in to fight the coronavirus – all our usual ways to help are still available. This includes help and advice if you need to flee an abuser and advice on how to manage an abusive relationship during lockdown if you are unable to leave. It is more important now, than ever before for people to be able to access the help available quickly and know they can travel to a place of refuge.”
Acting Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, Nicki Norman, said: “We’re delighted that our Rail to Refuge scheme is removing this barrier and is allowing women to travel to the safety of a refuge without the difficulty, and sometimes impossibility, of booking and paying for their own travel.
“When escaping from domestic abuse, taking those first steps can be the most difficult and such a stressful time. We thank train companies for helping to make that first difficult step much more accessible to women, particularly during the crisis when women experiencing domestic abuse are facing unimaginable isolation.”
Despite restrictions imposed to combat Coronavirus, help and advice is -and will continue to be – available including help finding a refuge. Visit the Somerset Survivors website or telephone 0800 69 49 999.
In an emergency, or if you are being threatened, you should always dial 999. If the situation that you are in means you are unable to speak, dial 999 then 55 to get help when the operator answers.
You can also find other support about domestic abuse at www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk. For example; how to recognise the signs of abuse, tips on how to help a friend, family member or work colleague experiencing abuse or how to manage an abusive relationship whilst self-isolating.