A seven days-seven-swims challenge has been organised by Belfast resident, Denise Donnelly.

Denise and other fundraisers are braving the cold waters of Helens Bay at 7am. They started on September 1 and will finish on September 7 in order to raise much needed funds and awareness for Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid

Challenge: Elaine Johnston, left, with Denise Donnelly

‘I have watched women who fear the sea and the cold, take their first dips in to the Irish sea and it’s amazing to see them come away feeling happier and more confident in themselves’

Denise said: “I have always been a supporter of Women’s Aid and the amazing work they do but when I started to read the statistics on domestic violence and abuse when lock down started I really felt like I needed to do something to help. I had started Sea Swimming around June and it has really helped improve my confidence and my physical and mental health, so it made sense to create a fundraising challenge that incorporated it.

“I have watched women who fear the sea and the cold, take their first dips in to the Irish sea and it’s amazing to see them come away feeling happier and more confident in themselves. If my minor fundraising effort can help support a woman and/or her family to live a safer, happier life then I feel it will be successful.”

With the PSNI reporting further increases in domestic abuse incidents, Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid has recorded a noticeable increase in traffic to their website during the lockdown period. Funds raised during this challenge will support essential services provided by Women’s Aid during the Pandemic.

In Northern Ireland, PSNI Statistics show 31,817 domestic abuse incidents last year, the highest financial year figure recorded since 2004/5. Northern Ireland had the highest rate of femicide in Europe together with Romania per 100,000 in the population. Domestic violence is not going away and many women lose their lives every year. In NI incidents of domestic violence are rising and protections for women are weaker than the rest of the UK and Ireland.

The cost of domestic and sexual violence in Northern Ireland is estimated at £885.7 million. Women’s Aid service provision at current levels across NI is less than one percent of this total cost.

Women’s Aid continue to lobby for adequate provisions and ring-fenced funding to maintain and develop critical services. Domestic abuse incidents are on the rise; however, it is understood statistics are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The specialist services Women’s Aid provide, require long-term investment to cope with increased demand.

You can keep up to date with the 7 Days 7 Swims challenge via the Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid Facebook and Twitter pages

You can support Denise via the link www.justgiving.com/fundraising/7days7swims

Facebook: Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid/ @belfastwomensaid

Twitter: @WomensaidBelLis

Hashtag#WeAreWomensAid

 
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