A domestic abuse charity has revealed a stark rise in calls since lockdown after figures showed assault victims were treated in north Cumbrian hospitals more than once a week last year.

NHS figures show that doctors at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust saw 70 patients who had been admitted to hospital after being assaulted in 2019-20 - an average of more than one patient a week.

A localised breakdown of the figures is not available, but national details show the second most common reason for women and girls to be under a consultant’s care was assaults involving physical and sexual abuse, mental cruelty or torture.

There were 1,012 such cases nationally in 2019-20, accounting for one in six female assault victims, and an increase of 31 per cent compared to 2015-16.

Vicky Pike, charity manager at The Freedom Project West Cumbria, which supports people who have suffered or witnessed domestic abuse, said she was concerned but not surprised about the figures.

The charity helps more than 500 people annually and usually sees demand increase slightly each year.

But it has seen a surge in people seeking help since lockdown, with a 12 per cent increase in calls since Easter.

She said: "We have seen a big increase, especially since perpetrators started going back to work.

"We are expecting to see an increase in children's referrals again now schools are back because a lot of our referrals come from schools."

The charity has also seen a rise in male victims seeking support, Vicky added.

It provides counselling for people affected by domestic abuse, and has recently appointed a support worker to provide immediate practical support as well as a listening ear.

Vicky said: "It's very important that as soon as somebody is ready to reach out for help it's there and they're not having to sit on waiting lists."

The project relies on public support to operate. For more details visit freedom-project-west-cumbria.org.uk