Writing for this edition of the Sutton Observer we have been in lock down for 5-weeks, helping fight the battle against Coronavirus, a disease that has posed the biggest threat to our country in decades. This is without doubt an extremely testing time for our country and for individuals but by following the Government’s advice to ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives’ we are starting to see the benefit of that hard work.  It is thanks to you for playing your part and following the Government’s advice that we will overcome Coronavirus.

The battle against this pandemic is one that will take us many months, and social distancing measures will sadly have to remain part of our daily lives as we emerge from the lock down period.  This means we must find new ways of working, and that is includes Parliament, as well as new ways of socialising and communicating with family and friends.

Day in and day out during this pandemic we have been superbly served by all of our key workers operating across front line services, care homes, supermarkets, and pharmacies. I thank you all, and I thank our NHS and the incredible work they are doing on our behalf.

In so many instances Covid-19 has brought out the best of all of us in Britain and in our local communities, whether that is the weekly clap for carers, the increased sense of neighbourliness – albeit socially distanced – and our generosity by supporting initiatives such as the ‘Big Night In’ and Captain Tom Moore’s heroic 100 laps for 100 years.

However, there are also signs that the lockdown associated with Covid-19 is having a detrimental impact on some families who suffer at the hands of domestic abusers.

Domestic abuse is a pernicious crime that can affect anyone. Experienced predominantly, but not exclusively, by women, we know that there are men who suffer to. There are children who witness it and remain at risk, and concerned families, friends and neighbours who are affected too.

The Government launched a public awareness campaign in April highlighting that if anyone is at risk of or experiencing domestic abuse, help is still available, during the Coronavirus pandemic. The campaign #YouAreNotAlone includes a Freephone, 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline number 0808 2000 247 run by Refuge and, www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.

It’s good to welcome the Domestic Abuse Bill back to parliament this week too. A landmark piece of legislation which commands cross party support across the House of Commons, the Domestic Abuse Bill will raise awareness and understanding about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on victims and their families. It will also help transform our response as a society, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and support their families to ensure they have the support they need.

Too often, and hidden away behind closed doors, domestic abuse has destroyed lives and has torn families apart. This new legislation is an opportunity for us all to help those who suffer from this deeply harmful crime and will ensure that there is greater support for victims when bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Stay Safe. Stay Well.

This article was first published in the Royal Sutton Observer Friday 1st May 2020