The Coronavirus pandemic has proved to be a great challenge for many businesses and organisations, with many having to change the way they work quite drastically.
It has been especially hard for Leeway, a specialist domestic abuse charity with services in Norfolk and Suffolk, as demand for support has significantly increased throughout the pandemic.
During the first lockdown, the charity saw a 300% increase in the number of people contacting the advice and support service, compared to figures from the same period in 2019.
As well as working tirelessly to meet an increased demand, staff had to adapt to new ways of working too, using video and audio technology to support service users where they would usually receive face-to-face support.
Those working in Leeway’s refuges formed bubbles to keep fellow staff members and residents safe, preventing the potential spread of the virus.
The challenges have not just been limited to frontline services with the pandemic also affecting fundraising, forcing Leeway to look to alternative ways of raising funds.
As a charity, fundraising plays a big role in helping to enhance and sustain the services that Leeway provides but all of these activities have been unable to take place due the pandemic.
This has been a problem facing many charities and has led to much uncertainty throughout the sector, especially for those whose services rely on the income generated from fundraising.
The support of the community has been fantastic though, with businesses, organisations and individuals going above and beyond to support Leeway and the work the charity does.
Reflecting on the challenges of the pandemic, Mandy Proctor, Chief Executive of Leeway, said: “It has undoubtedly been a really challenging time, but everyone has worked incredibly hard to ensure that services have been able to run and meet an increased demand.
“Domestic abuse has been in the spotlight during the pandemic and it has highlighted the increased importance of looking out for family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
“It is important that this continues after COVID because, sadly, domestic abuse will still be a reality for far too many people and we must work together to tackle it.”
There has been an increased demand for training throughout the pandemic, with Leeway delivering online awareness sessions to a range of businesses and organisations.
With workplace dynamics changing significantly over the past year many businesses have looked to address ways of supporting their employees, particularly whilst many people are working from home.
It is anticipated that the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill, currently being debated in parliament, will include guidance for businesses on how they can support employees experiencing domestic abuse.
You can find out more about Leeway and the services that the charity offers, including training, by visiting www.leewaysupport.org.