Balancing work commitments and home schooling, anxiety about jobs and businesses, increased financial pressure and uncertainty - lockdown restrictions are having an impact on us all.
I feel the effects of long-term lack of face to face contact and separation from wider family and my friends. Worshipping virtually has brought many blessings, but being unable physically to visit the churches in my care and under my oversight is tough too. I miss you.
However, I have my husband and adult children with me and home is a place where I feel safe, supported, valued and loved.
Sadly, for many, home can be a place of fear and danger - and the pandemic has exacerbated that. Among those most at risk at the moment are those facing domestic abuse.
Women’s Aid England research has found that the additional impacts of the pandemic are considerable: it raises fear, worsens the abuse, affects mental health and the ability to cope, increases isolation, makes contacting the Police or support agencies more difficult, and reduces options for escape.
Research also highlights an increased impact on children as they are more exposed to witnessing abuse, at increased risk of being left alone with the perpetrator, and more likely to be abused themselves.
Refuge services have reported significant increases in demand for telephone, online and face-to-face services - an average of 444 contacts and calls per day and 700% increase in visits to their online Helpline.
No one should suffer domestic abuse. It is not OK, ever.
What’s more, domestic abuse is an affront to God.
Scripture teaches that each and every person is uniquely created in God’s image and is infinitely precious. Jesus sought out with compassion those who are most
vulnerable - his active hunger and thirst for justice transforming their darkness into light.
How we treat one another is an expression of our faith: we read in 1 John ‘Those who say, ‘I love God’, and act hatefully to another are liars; for those who do not act lovingly to someone whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.
The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must act lovingly to others also.’
Before Christmas I joined The Mothers Union for a service launching their participation in 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence. We heard about The Willow Project, from Emily Brailsford of Rural Action Derbyshire, which raises awareness of domestic abuse in rural areas.
During January, I participated in the second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill in the House of Lords and am a co-signatory of an amendment requiring funding for
community based services for victims and perpetrators, that includes provision for child victims of such abuse.
I am working for Derby and Derbyshire to be places where all do feel valued, loved, cared for, supported - and safe.
Our Diocesan vision echoes that desire: The Kingdom of God: Good News for all. That good news needs to translate into transformed lives, not least for those who are suffering - right now, in every context of our diocese - domestic abuse.
If you have concerns about your own safety, or that of someone you know, there is help available.
All of the Domestic Abuse services in Derbyshire have come together to for ease of access at this time: the helpline number is 08000 198 668; and there is a Facebook page called simply ‘Domestic Abuse Support in Derbyshire’.
And please know that I am praying for all those living under the dark shadow of domestic abuse.
Bishop of Derby