ABUSE victims who were stripped of their normal support networks during the pandemic have been seeking help from a specialist charity in York in far greater numbers.

With referrals growing to more than 20,000 per year, the Independent Domestic Abuse Services has won welcome support from York's all-female law team at Torque Law as a corporate partner.

Sarah Hill, who heads Yorkshire's leading specialist charity which helps people affected by domestic and sexual abuse, said demand had reached 'unprecedented' levels.

“This has been an incredibly busy and challenging time. The impact of Covid on those living with abusers has been extreme, with victims having had less access to their normal support networks, friends or family members.

"There has been an unprecedented demand for our support with referrals growing to over 20,000 per year.

"Our helplines were the busiest they have ever been taking more than 380 calls every week.

"There has also been more demand for emergency accommodation across North and South Yorkshire.”

IDAS services include providing refuge accommodation, community-based support, peer mentoring, group work and access to a free, confidential out of hours’ helpline.

The IDAS team also supports people through the criminal justice system in addition to providing emotional support and safety planning advice.

Torque Law, which is the largest employment law team in North Yorkshire, has formed a corporate partnership with IDAS.

Torque Law is also a member of The Employer’s Initiative on Domestic Abuse, a network that works with employers to tackle domestic abuse.

During the pandemic, the team provided advice and raised awareness on steps employers could take to respond to the rise of domestic abuse cases.

Torque Law are making a monthly donation, and working on ways to support IDAS on future initiatives and funding priorities.

Tiggy Clifford, partner, said: “We encourage our team to give back to the community we work in, in a way which suits their personal priorities and values.

"Over the last year we have been collaborating with local women’s charities and our established support for women and individuals experiencing domestic abuse continues as we partner with IDAS to provide vital income and practical help through our team and our wide business network.”

Sarah added: “We are pleased to partner with Torque Law, who have a strong interest in the area of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

"Corporate partnerships provide a vital source of income, so that we can keep supporting people subjected to abuse and violence, to rebuild their self-esteem and support children who have been impacted to recover from their experience.

"We rely on support to keep this vital source of income and hope that this partnership encourages other businesses to follow suit.”

To learn more about supporting IDAS, visit www.idas.org.uk