Hawke's Bay's two Women's Refuge centres owe $13,500 for motel use needed to house a surge of women and children seeking refuge in lockdown.
"When we went into lockdown last year the Government and philanthropic trusts were very generous, this time we haven't had that," said Julie Hart, business manager Family VIP Services Hawke's Bay.
"We had to use our general funds to pay for the motel accommodation."
It was the first time motel accommodation had to be used to house women and children, because the three safe houses in the region didn't have the capacity required.
In Hawke's Bay at the height of the lockdown 16 women and 24 children sought refuge at Hastings and Napier Women's Refuge safe houses.
This was a "dramatic increase" from lockdown last year, said Hart.
Last year the Napier and Hastings Women's Refuges were accommodating two women and their children going into lockdown, and added a further family during the lockdown.
This year nine families were already in safe house accommodation when lockdown started (nine women, and 13 children), and seven women and 11 children were added to that list.
"It was business as unusual. We had spent the last 12 months educating women about it being okay to seek help during lockdown, and the increase in numbers seeking help this year was part of that.
"From lessons we learned in 2020 we had a plan to use motels if our safe houses reached capacity. But we had to use motels with things like cooking facilities."
A woman who sought help during the current lockdown, along with her children, said she felt "safe" for the first time.
"He was hitting me, the kids ... he didn't need a reason. I am scared every time I go out.''
But for now, they're safe and she's glad to have a haven.
"We are safe here, but I am looking for a house. Anything will do."
For other women using the motel accommodation, it was another layer to get used to.
"We were in lockdown, and they had to be in that particular space with their kids. It was like being in an MIQ facility," Hart said.
She said the refuge provided whatever the women required.
"One woman came to us saying she couldn't wash her clothes, so we provided soap powder and coins to operate the washing machine.
"But things like transporting families was quite difficult."
A Givealittle page has been created for the women's refuge to help they pay the cost of accommodation.
"If people can help out financially to help Women's Refuge to get families to safety we will appreciate it."
So far the page has raised approximately $800.
"If we don't raise enough to pay the bill, doesn't mean we will stop using motels if required. We will always help families in need. We are 80 per cent full right now."
Hastings Women's Refuge is an arm of Family Violence Intervention & Prevention Charitable Trust (Family VIP Services) which supports Hawke's Bay families to live free from violence.
To donate: https://givealittle.co.nz/org/hastingswomens
DO YOU NEED HELP?
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay
• Call the Crisis Support Line 24/7 at 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)
or 06 870 6024
Where to go for help or more information:
• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website