Jewish Women’s Aid marked International Women’s Day by announcing the launch of a confidential live web chat service.
Online support will initially be available in two-hour slots from Monday to Thursday from April 20.
Anyone clicking to chat will be messaging with one of JWA’s domestic abuse support workers, front-line staff who can offer its wider services where appropriate.
The charity will monitor demand during the first few months and make adjustments where necessary. JWA’s telephone helplines for domestic abuse and sexual violence will continue as normal.
“Sometimes a woman or girl doesn’t want to talk on the phone, or it isn’t convenient,” explained JWA chief executive Naomi Dickson. “We developed our web chat service to respond to this, and also in light of the success of this channel in the wider domestic abuse sector.
“In particular, we want to make sure that younger women and girls feel comfortable contacting us if they’re worried about their situation. The 16-25 age group is the most likely to experience relationship abuse and it’s no different in the Jewish community.”
Since April 2019, 58 girls and young women aged 14-24 have contacted JWA for support — overall, the charity supports around 700 women annually.
There has been a steady growth in younger clients in recent years, which JWA attributes to the awareness created by its education programme in schools and on campus.
It expects a further increase with the launch of the web chat service but stresses there is no evidence to suggest that the number of younger Jewish women and girls suffering abuse is on the rise.
In another widening of services for younger women, the charity has employed a young women and girls worker after receiving a grant from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to help 14-24 year-olds in London.
And also for International Women’s Day, JWA supporters hosted coffee events for friends and family to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence in the Jewish community.
The fundraising gatherings took place in homes, cafés and on campus.