South Gloucestershire Council has welcomed the announcement of £50,000 in additional funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to support survivors of domestic abuse.
The funding is part of a £16.6 million initiative which is supporting 75 projects across England to help fund domestic abuse refuge services in rural communities and is part of a wider drive to bolster protection for survivors of domestic abuse, including the Domestic Abuse Bill which is due to be reintroduced.
Announced on Monday 17 February, the funding is expected to help up to 43,000 survivors nationally get access to the help they need as they move towards a safe future, free from domestic abuse.
Rural areas are being specifically targeted for this funding because abuse lasts on average 25 per cent longer there before people report it and support services are less available, less visible and less effective than in denser populated areas.
A joint funding bid was led by South Gloucestershire alongside Somerset County Council and North Somerset Council. A total of £150,000 will be equally split between the three authorities and will be used to commission front-line service delivery, employing Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs) to work in rural and isolated communities. The IDVAs will be utilising existing frontline workers such as public health nursing/health visitors to help increase visibility of this rural focused service.
Working in partnership, our joint proposal is to pilot a new way of working by directing housing related support and promoting services within rural and isolated communities. The aim is to break down the barriers that isolated victims in rural communities encounter and ensure that rural victims have access to the services that they need.
We are also going to challenge societal status quo in rural areas and provide information and education to these isolated communities to enable them to better identify domestic abuse and to know how to support a friend or family member who is a victim.
In addition, working in partnership with North Somerset Council and Somerset County Council provides us access to a network of safe accommodation across the three areas, that provides specialist accommodation for LGBTQ+, victims with disabilities, older victims and BAME victims.
Welcoming the funding, Cllr Erica Williams, who chairs the South Gloucestershire Partnership Against Domestic Abuse (PADA), said: “We are delighted to have received this funding from Government which will help aid vital work being done in South Gloucestershire to support survivors of domestic abuse.
“Our focus with this funding is on more rural areas as we know that is where there is a higher risk of harm, with rurality and isolation deliberately used as weapons by abusers. We want to give communities the resources to help people escape from this treatment.”
This one-off funding award comes ahead of the introduction of a new legal requirement for all local authorities to assess the need for and commission support for victims and their children within safe-accommodation, which comes in to force in April 2021.
For more information on domestic violence support available in South Gloucestershire visit www.southglos.gov.uk/domesticabuse