A NEW service to help vulnerable pensioners has been created after a domestic abuse charity saw more elderly people being referred in lockdown.

Endeavour, a charity supporting people affected by domestic abuse, has launched the Evergreen Project, one of the UK's first services designed exclusively for the over 55s.

By changing the language they use, using early morning calls, and offering printed literature, the charity has made it easier for elderly people to access help, after a surge of people in their later years came forward for assistance.

Jill Caldwell, chief executive of the charity, is pleased to launch the service, but heartbroken to know the help is needed.

She said: "We've seen a surge in referrals across the whole service, we've been keeping an eye out for trends and we've had a lot of people in their late 80s coming forward.

"Some people have been shielding and been particularly vulnerable

"We've seen abusers using fear of covid as a means of control, financial control from people who have been shopping on their behalf, and coercive control leaving them feeling humiliated or their independence removed from them."

After noticing the trend, Endeavour approached the National Lottery Community Fund, asking for help to set-up the new service.

The scheme was launched last week, and within two days they'd already seen people referring themselves to the group, looking for advice to improve their living situation.

Both men and women have been helped by the service, with both emotional and financial abuse seen commonly.

Ms Caldwell added: "We're speaking to people who are frightened of a family member, who feel pressured into handing over money or making a decision.

"One woman said she felt like she was invisible to the outside world."

"There are some people who just want the abuse to stop – they don't want to get anyone into trouble.

"Whilst I'm happy to set up this service, it's sad that it's needed. These people are the hidden victims of coronavirus and I'm glad that the pandemic has put a spot light on domestic abuse.

"People have become more aware now, and this heightened awareness has led to some neighbours contacting us because something doesn't sit right with them.

"We would rather have people ask the question about whether something's wrong, and it not be abuse, than stay quiet about it."

If you, or someone you know, is being abused, call Endeavour on 01204 394842 to ask for advice.