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Black Isle women join campaign to highlight the plight of those facing domestic abuse during coronavirus pandemic

By Val Sweeney

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Liz Downing and Lesley Clunas at Chanonry Point.
Liz Downing and Lesley Clunas at Chanonry Point.

Two friends have used their daily exercise to highlight a campaign to provide more emergency accommodation for women in need.

Liz Downing and Lesley Clunas, of Fortrose, are backing the Some Women Need to Walk campaign which is calling for more emergency accommodation to be made available for those trapped in lockdown with their abuser.

While observing social distancing at Chanonry Point, the two friends highlighted their messages via homemade posters.

Ms Downing said the campaign had struck a chord with her.

Although she did not work in the domestic abuse sector, she knew people who had done so in the past.

“This really mattered to me because I want refuges to be available for all people needing to escape from domestic violence,” she said.

“I hope to persuade others to join the campaign.’’

Ms Clunas hoped the UK would follow the example of other countries in helping women who are facing danger.

“We must take a lead from countries like France who are using empty hotel accommodation to provide sanctuary for women to escape to,” she said.

“The government needs to be funding this now.”

Ms Downing said elsewhere in the Highlands and around the UK other campaigners have also been highlighting the message on banners and posters as well as other ways.

Five Poolewe residents wrote the words Some Women Need To Walk in big letters on the sand at nearby Firemore Beach, for example.

An online petition has also been started amid increased domestic violence rates following lockdown.

The campaign, founded by Martha Jephcott and Charlotte Fischer, said before lockdown three out of every five women trying to access shelters to leave domestic violence were turned away because of lack of space.

“The government has announced funding for domestic violence, but explicitly saying it is going to charities to fill the gaps from years of underfunding,” Ms Jephcott said.

“That’s fantastic for those organisations and the women who can be supported by phone lines or helplines but we’re focusing on those women at one extreme end of the spectrum who are in danger of being injured and killed unless they have somewhere to go to.

“For those women, it’s crucial they can access emergency accommodation such as the hotels being offered at cost like in France, or private flats which London has begun to use.”

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