A WEE COUNTY domestic abuse charity is gearing up to support families through the new lockdown and into 2021.

Clackmannanshire Women's Aid has been providing support, information and safe refuge accommodation to abused women and their children for more than 40 years.

Having had to change their way of working to keep safe during the pandemic, women's worker Patricia Murray told the Advertiser that they were prepared for the challenges that the latest restrictions may bring.

"This lockdown is going to be so hard for everybody," she said. "From an organisational point, we are better equipped now to support survivors.

"Unlike back in March, we have a way of working. This is not new anymore. We feel in a better place to provide the best support.

"I can say as well with the first lockdown, it has given staff a bit more time or opportunity to develop their skills. That adds to providing the best support we can especially when we get back to having a sense of normality.

"We have been able to do training we didn't have the time for before."

Patricia said the charity, with its 11 staff members, will continue to work to help domestic abuse survivors in the best way for each individual.

"I suppose with the new lockdown, everybody it at their wits end. It is a horrible time of year for everybody but especially for survivors of domestic abuse trapped with an abuser – there is no place to go.

"We have seen our call numbers go down last year – the amount of requests for support actually decreased.

"That is probably because if you are locked in a house with an abuser, it is relentless.

"Although call numbers decreased, we also saw contact times increasing. That reflects when people were able to receive that support they really need.

"We have seen a lot of coverage in recent days that they (survivors) are able to leave but there is a question as to where do they go? There is nowhere for them to go at the moment.

"A lot of refuges are not taking survivors from different council areas as they are wary of the virus, so it is quite difficult in that sense."

The Clacks charity, which will celebrate its 45th birthday this year, receives funding from the Scottish Government and the local authority; however, it also relies on public donations.

Despite the current restrictions, Patricia said they have still seen generosity from kind hearted locals.

She added: "Usually, we get donations over Christmas from the public and we were not able to take that. People will think when they are having a clear out that they will give that to the women's aid, but we haven't been able to accept that as everything needs to be new.

"That has been a struggle, but we have had such great support from local organisations and from the public that we ended up with quite a lot of stuff given out at Christmas.

"We have great support from the public and they help us provide the best services we can.

"I think people know how hard it is at the moment so they are probably helping even more. People are wanting to give back."

Anyone wanting support from the charity can call 01259 721407 or email Clackswomensaid@gmail.com

Further round the clock support is available through the Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234.