Chelsea have donated their £100,000 prize money for winning the Women’s Super League title to a domestic abuse charity.
The club are engaged with Refuge and the donation from the WSL triumph will be directed to supporting women and children experiencing abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a charity that’s close to the hearts and minds of the women’s team, and is very important to our owner, Mr Abramovich, and everyone at the club,” said Emma Hayes, the Chelsea manager. “It makes me proud our club is supporting those less fortunate in times of need.
“Up until now our involvement was about supporting the campaign publicly with a call to action but we all wanted to do more than that and if donating our prize money can ease some of the concerns and worries people have, then it’s the least we can do.
“It’s an important message. It’s a campaign that’s really dear to us and the best way we can demonstrate our support further is by committing our prize money towards it and helping those in need.”
Hayes’s team were awarded first place based on a points-per-game basis as a result of the season’s abandonment. Chelsea remained unbeaten throughout and had defeated title rivals in head-to-head games.
The strain of lockdown and the attendant isolation involved have prompted an increase in domestic abuse incidents and Refuge, the UK’s largest single such charity, provides specialist and confidential support to women affected.
Sandra Horley, the Refuge chief executive, emphasised how much Chelsea’s gesture means. “Refuge has seen a huge increase in demand to its helpline and website services during Covid-19, which has shone a light on the thousands of women who need our support across the country right now,” she said.
“We are incredibly grateful to Chelsea Women for not only shining a light on domestic abuse but also supporting us with a significant financial commitment. This is an incredible gesture. Every penny we raise helps Refuge to provide life-saving and life-changing specialist services.
“The Covid-19 crisis has placed a huge financial strain on domestic abuse services and the generous support of Chelsea Women will help Refuge to ensure no woman or child is turned away from safety.”
• Call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. Women’s Aid’s online chat can be found here