Domestic abuse survivors in Britain can get free train tickets to a refuge until March 2021 after the “Rail to Refuge” scheme was extended because of a surge in demand.
Rail operators and charity Women’s Aid first teamed up to cover travel costs for survivors of domestic abuse in April, initially planning to keep it in place for 12 weeks.
But with domestic abuse survivors trapped at home with their partner in lockdown, many charities have reported an increase for demand in their services and expect even more to flee their homes once pandemic restrictions loosen.
Train operators have provided free tickets to more than 800 people, including 200 children, since the scheme started in April, according to Women’s Aid. Two thirds of people who have so far booked a journey through Rail to Refuge said they would not have travelled if the journey had not been paid for.
Nicki Norman, acting chief executive of Women’s Aid said many survivors of domestic abuse also faced years of economic abuse, such as not being allowed to carry money or control their own finances, which limits their ability to escape.
“Women tell us that they simply cannot afford to leave because the perpetrator has controlled their money and they have none of their own,” Norman said, adding that “hundreds of women have left abusive relationships” thanks to the scheme.