It's a great question, and I wish I had an answer for you. We've been trying to get this information for many months.
We are not a shelter. We provide emergency access to women and girls who need long-term counselling, support and advocacy.
However, during COVID, there was no shelter space. We have a great relationship with our police service in London, and we knew that if police were responding to a 911 call and a woman needed to leave that minute, that officer needed to have a place to take her. We negotiated in the city of London with various facilities, so that women could be taken with their children immediately to a safe place where they could stay until we could find them an alternative space and they could receive ongoing counselling and support.
That is not funded by the government and is not seen as providing shelter space.
With respect to sexual assault, of course, we provide many women with services to assist with being sexually assaulted. We do not have sexual assault in our name. I don't think the government understands enough about the work we do to understand the relationship between sexual assault and trafficking, for instance, childhood sexual assault in the women who come to us, and also the overlap between all of the areas of male violence against women, by the abuser at home sexually assaulting her or her children, or being sexually assaulted by a stranger or in a dating situation.
I have no understanding as to why we didn't receive any money. Originally we thought, well, we're sort of stand-alone. We're probably one of the only agencies that provide the level of advocacy that we do. However, I later found out from Peter's office that in their research, they determined that at least 600 other agencies also did not receive the funding.