Dame Julie Walters to join founder of West Sussex charity on TV to highlight help for victims of domestic abuse

The CEO of a West Sussex charity is due to appear on TV with Dame Julie Walters this week to highlight the help available for victims of domestic abuse during lockdown.

My Sisters' House celebrates its fifth anniversary with Dame Julie Walters officially opening the new centre building in 2019.  Picture: Sarah Standing
My Sisters' House celebrates its fifth anniversary with Dame Julie Walters officially opening the new centre building in 2019. Picture: Sarah Standing

With families and couples across the country confined to their homes, there have been concerns over an increase in domestic abuse.

According to Julie Budge, there has been a 300 per cent rise in phone calls on the national domestic abuse helpline.

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To raise awareness of the issue, the CEO and founder of My Sisters’ House in Bognor Regis is due to appear via Skype on Good Morning Britain Live with Lorraine Kelly between 9 and 10am on Thursday morning, joined by the charity’s patron, Julie Walters.

My Sisters’ House Women’s Centre works across the coastal area of West Sussex, providing a range of support needs to women from all backgrounds.

Julie Budge said: “We are seeing a rise as more women get familiar with our helpline and live chat, out of hours.

“We offer 8 to 10pm, [which is] the only provision of such in the county and daytime 10am to 1pm, as well as Saturdays. For many women being in lockdown is nothing new, in the sense they have been restricted before.

“So we are finding women in recovery of abuse are also needing more support as the lockdown has reminded them and giving them nightmares and flashbacks.”

Golden Globe and BAFTA-winning actress Julie Walters was named patron of My Sisters’ House after opening its refurbished centre last August. It was the first of two visits to Bognor by the star of Harry Potter and Mamma Mia, who attended the International Women’s Day conference at the Regis Centre in March. The actress also filmed a video appeal for donations earlier this month to help the charity continue supporting vulnerable women during the pandemic.

Julie Budge said they will use the opportunity on TV to talk about the affects of domestic abuse during lockdown.

She added: “[We will reveal] how we have adapted, and provide general UK advice on seeking support, key messages as such and of course how and why Dame Julie Walters is our patron.

“In December, 72 women accessed the centre via drop in so we were devastated to close the doors. We saw a drop initially but now the calls are increasing. We have staff ready to take their calls.

“We are know that lots of women will find it so difficult to contact us and so we would urge them to ring the national domestic abuse helpline, and of course ours and our live chat.”

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