A councillor who has survived domestic abuse wants Peterborough to “take the lead across the country” in tackling the problem.
Cllr Katy Cole (Labour, Dogsthorpe) says she is committed to providing a voice for survivors of abuse – whether sexual, coercive or financial – as the issue is one “people know about, but don’t want to talk about”.
Already, Cllr Cole has held a meeting on the issue, attended by CEO of Peterborough Women’s Aid, Amanda Geraghty, and several Peterborough City Council (PCC) councillors.
Ms Geraghty told the group that the meeting was the first time she’d met with PCC councillors and that the city is in need of greater provision for survivors; the “dream” is a drop-in centre in Peterborough where women can talk to staff at the domestic abuse charity, she said.
Cllr Cole agreed that she wants to see a “fully-funded women’s centre in Peterborough” among other provisions.
“I want Peterborough to take the lead across the country regarding domestic abuse; how we train the police officers; how we put early interventions in through schools,” she said.
“And I really want to see a fully-funded women’s centre in Peterborough with secure funding so Women’s Aid can plan for the future and not have to worry about how are they going to do this.”
Cllr Cole says that she will also be raising the issue of domestic abuse at PCC’s next full council meeting and that she will keep asking questions on the subject until she’s “getting the right answers”.
PCC Labour group leader Cllr Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe), meanwhile, says that he has put Ms Geraghty in touch with PCC’s head of estates, Felicity Paddick, to discuss potential options for the location of a women’s centre, while Labour parliamentary candidate Andrew Pakes, who also attended the meeting, promised to help find a venue for the charity’s first winter ball in November.
Cllr Cole says that personal experience is part of the reason she’s passionate about tackling domestic abuse.
“I didn’t see it happening to me,” she said. “And if it hadn’t been for my friends at the time, then I may not have seen what was happening.
“But that’s not the only reason. Having been a teacher for 19 years, I’ve seen what happens and how certain behaviours become acceptable in a family.”
Ms Geraghty says that Peterborough Women’s Aid has been approached by schools in the city about them coming in to educate their students about issues such as online misogyny and the self-professed sexist social media influencer Andrew Tate.
She also discussed several of the projects Women’s Aid have underway in Peterborough at Cllr Cole’s meeting, including the county-wide B-United project, offering support to male victims of domestic violence, which launched this week.
There’s also the upcoming Dahlia project, specifically supporting South Asian women, and the charity’s dedicated Lithuanian Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Community Engagement Worker.
Beyond that, the charity runs a women’s refuge in Peterborough and a group for all women called Women Warriors.
PCC Labour councillors Alison Jones (Central), Samantha Hemraj (East), Noreen Bi (North) and Shabina Qayyum (East) attended the meeting alongside Cllr Cole, Cllr (Dennis) Jones and Mr Pakes.
Information about domestic abuse can be found on the council’s website here.
Cllr Cole also urges anyone who has experienced domestic abuse to visit the Women’s Aid website or call their helpline on 01733 894964.