August 15, 2022

I went to Leeds Refuge Center twice a week – they helped me, reveals Mel Bo

7 min read

Tea in hand, Spice Girl Mel B chats with a group of moms while their kids play happily nearby.

Themes include the spectacular Euro victory of the England lioness and the excitement of a little girl on a visit to the Tooth Fairy.

Mel B and the residents at the shelter


Mel B and the residents at the sheltercredit: Glenn Minikin
Mel, pictured at The Asylum with The Sun's Caroline Iggulden, says: 'If you know someone in your life you're afraid of it's so important that they know they can talk about it '


Mel, pictured at The Asylum with The Sun’s Caroline Iggulden, says: ‘If you know someone in your life you’re afraid of it’s so important that they know they can talk about it ‘credit: Glenn Minikin

Mel looks so at ease she can sit in her living room – but she’s actually on a visit to the Women’s Aid Domestic Abuse Asylum in her hometown of Leeds.

It coincides with the launch of Speak Out Against Domestic Abuse, a joint campaign between The Sun and charity Women’s Aid to highlight how we can all play our part.

Mel, 47, has been regularly dropping by to see residents at the shelter since her marriage to US TV producer Stephen Belafonte in 2017.

The following year in her book Brutally Honest, she wrote about the coercive control she experienced in a relationship.

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Mel credits aid workers at the asylum – which at one time she was visiting twice a week – for helping her rebuild her life.

The TODAY singer, who received an MBE earlier this year for her work as a patron of Women’s Aid, is on hand to highlight the crippling pressures facing living crises up and down the country.

The Sun may reveal startling new figures that show rising bills are having a dangerous dual effect.

Not only do the costs for refugees more than triple, a growing number of women are trapped in abusive relationships because they worry about the cost of running a household alone.

In a survey of Women’s Aid, 96 percent of women who have suffered abuse Said in the last year that the cost of living crisis has had a negative impact on his financial situation.

And for 73 percent of them, the crisis had kept them from going or made it very difficult to do so.

More than half of the women still living in abusive relationships said their partners had used the growing concerns about financial control as a tool of coercion.

Mel said: “We already know that it often takes seven out of eight attempts to leave an abusive relationship.

“It’s already such a struggle to quit, but when you’re more fearful than ever about money, it makes it ten times harder.”

As a child, Mel lived not far from the shelter she now visits and played in the street with the children who had found sanctuary there with their mother.

She said: “I grew up on a council estate, my dad worked 24/7 in a factory and my mom worked three jobs to pay the bills. I know what it is like to be short of money.

“And the financial side is a huge burden for women running away from abusive relationships. They can take the first step as soon as they come here. But we need to support these places, which are very important.”

Women’s Aid is calling on the Home Office to offer an emergency aid fund for survivors to help offset the impact of the end-of-life crisis. Leeds Women’s Aid chief executive Nick Pacegood explained the horrifying reality of the situation.

She said: “The sharp increase in costs is really scary. Our residents pay us a very nominal fee, which includes all their bills and council taxes, and often comes out of housing benefits.

“But our bills, like gas and electricity, are increasing three times. We can’t pass those costs on to residents because they can’t afford it.

“And families are living here and getting taller because it would be such a shock to move out and suddenly have to face the cost of running a household.”

If you know someone in your life that you are afraid of it is so important that they know they can talk about it.

Mel B

Farah Nazir, chief executive of Women’s Aid, told The Sun: “The current livelihood crisis has been devastating for survivors of domestic abuse.

“We know that domestic abuse and economic abuse go hand in hand, with abusers often controlling every aspect of a woman’s life.

“Rising energy and food costs will make many women more vulnerable to abuse.”

One resident, a mother of four, tells Mel that even though she may have found protection at a shelter from an abusive husband, she is struggling to see how she will be able to build an independent future.

She said: “Last week I thought about packing my bag and going back to him.

“This place has provided me security but I do not have any job at present. I dream of building my own space but at the moment I can’t see how it will happen.

“The worst part is that he always told me, ‘You won’t survive on your own, you have no job, no money’, and at the moment I feel like he’s being proven right.”

As well as supporting the Speak Out Against Domestic Abuse campaign, the Mail is pushing for additional reforms.

This includes demanding funds provided in the Victims Bill, which is currently underway in Parliament, to be used to counsel women who have fled abuse.

I have always spoken because I believe it is very important.

Mel B

She said: “I still suffer from PTSD – I jump if someone knocks on the door. Or I was at a showbiz event that day and I jumped out of my skin to the sound of a cork popping.”

During his travels Mel meets a friendly face who has come to say hello.

It’s female aid worker Sam, who offered her support the first time she left her marriage.

Mel said: “I was coming in twice a week and talking with Sam about everything. It was very valuable to me.

“When you come out of a relationship where your control has been taken away from you and you are cut off from your family and have lost your voice, it helps you to re-learn everything and build your confidence back. Is.

“And it’s still an ongoing process. The stories of the women I meet and talk to here are my stories. It’s a very healing place.”

Indeed, amidst the darkness there are real stories of hope.

Mel recognizes an Armenian woman whom he met on his first visit to the center.

After waiting for four years, he has finally secured his home.

Mel also meets a Greek resident who has been in an abusive relationship in Britain for more than ten years.

She tells the singer: “They didn’t allow me to learn English, because if I couldn’t speak the language, how could I ask for help?

“I’ve learned English since living here. A former resident who is a driving instructor taught me how to drive and now I have a job at a coffee shop. I would love to own my own coffee shop one day “

Some judges and court officials do not understand enough about the realities of living with abuse and how difficult it is to leave. The system can be crushed.

Mel B

The Mail is also pushing for a Victims Bill to make provision for regular training of court officers and judges.

She said: “I’ve navigated the court system myself and it can be an absolute nightmare and feel stacked towards the offender.

“Some judges and court officials don’t understand enough about the realities of living with abuse and how difficult it is to leave. The system can be crushing.”

Mel also wants issues such as coercive control and abuse within relationships taught in schools.

She added: “It can also start in adolescence when a boyfriend is talking about what a girl is doing on his phone. We need to talk about what coercive control looks like. ,

And she wants everyone to understand more about the signs of abuse and what they can do.

She said: “In many ways domestic abuse is still a taboo issue.

“It’s not just a ‘women’s issue,’ it’s for men and all.

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“If you know someone in your life that you’re afraid of, it’s very important that they know they can talk about it.

“I’ve always talked because I believe it’s very important.”

need help?

  • Provides a wide variety of services, including Survivors Handbooks and Survivors Forum. Live Chat 8 AM to 6 PM on weekdays, 10 AM to 6 PM on weekends,
  • or call 0808 2000 247 – National Domestic Abuse Helpline (Powered by Asylum),

Mel B’s Charter

  1. All survivors like me need counseling and community support. The Victims Bill must include a legal commitment to funding.
  2. Public services should be safe spaces that understand domestic abuse. Housing providers, the judiciary, NHS staff, police and financial services must receive compulsory training.
  3. Stop abuse with education on healthy relationships. It should be started by using resources like Umeed Samman Pack of Mahila Sahayata in Schools.
Resolute singer Mel speaks with survivors at Leeds refuge


Resolute singer Mel speaks with survivors at Leeds refugecredit: Glenn Minikin
Mel said: 'I've always talked because I believe it's very important'


Mel said: ‘I’ve always talked because I believe it’s very important’credit: Glenn Minikin
Spooky Spice On Stage In The Brits In 1997


Spooky Spice On Stage In The Brits In 1997credit: getty

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