‘Vital support’ extended for women and children
Airbnb has extended its partnership with Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid to provide free emergency accommodation for domestic violence survivors across Ireland.
The decision comes as lockdown restrictions continue to ease while emergency refuge services continue to operate with reduced capacity due to social distancing.
The initial partnership launched in June 2020 as Ireland prepared to reopen from the first lockdown and has provided 2,000 nights of emergency accommodation to date.
Domestic violence services have continued to see high numbers through 2021 with many survivors presenting with highly complex needs and heightened trauma from months of living with their abusers in extended lockdown.
The need to ensure safe social distancing in specialist domestic violence accommodation has reduced capacity by 25 per cent and there is concern that demand may increase further over the summer months.
Safe Ireland’s ‘Tracking the Shadow Pandemic’ reports carried out throughout 2020 shows that on average, 180 women and 275 children looked for emergency accommodation every month between March and December.
In that same time, 2,159 requests for refuge could not be met by services, indicating the importance of having other accommodation choices available.
Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland said the leading cause of homelessness in Ireland is domestic violence and the provision of shelter plays a huge role in the lives of victims.
“The availability of safe, affordable and stable housing is fundamental not only to a woman’s ability to escape an abusive partner, but also to remain safe and independent. The accommodation provided is designed to be temporary but it provides critical respite for services and women to make longer term plans,” she said.
Airbnb will continue to work through its hotel partners to provide free temporary accommodation when specialist emergency accommodation is not available.
Domestic violence services throughout the country will assess the safety needs of survivors before arranging bookings into the temporary hotel accommodation.
Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid said: “Women’s Aid is delighted to know that this vital support to women and children is being extended by Airbnb. The need and demand for creative responses to the needs of those subjected to domestic abuse is only increasing.”
All those accommodated as part of this initiative will continue to be closely supported by domestic violence specialists.
Safe Ireland will coordinate the initiative with its frontline services and support from the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline, with all accommodation costs sourced and paid for by Airbnb.
Jean Hoey, Public Policy Lead for Airbnb in Ireland, said: “We have much to look forward to as lockdown restrictions ease and a return to a sense of normality seems possible again. For those facing domestic abuse however, freedom will always seem out of reach.”