‘Life-changing’ domestic violence support scheme receives £500,000

A domestic violence support scheme in Essex will receive more than �500,000 in funding Picture: ARCH

A domestic violence support scheme in Essex will receive more than �500,000 in funding Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

A “life-changing” scheme in Essex to help victims of domestic abuse access vital refuge services has received more than £500,000 of funding.

Following a successful bid, Colchester Borough Council will receive £507,827 from the Government to help survivors of domestic abuse move towards a safe future.

Women from Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, Maldon and Tendring will now be able to get the specialist support they need to escape domestic violence following the award, the authority says.

The five Essex councils will work with charities Next Chapter and Open Road to allow victims and their children to stay safe, recover from the trauma and access safe permanent housing where needed.

The Essex authority is one of nine in the east of England to receive money, and nationally 75 projects will share a funding pot worth more than £16million.

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Colchester and Tendring have the highest numbers of victims of domestic violence in Essex. The reported incidents have risen significantly across Essex having more than doubled from 12,780 in 2015/16 to 26,030 in 2018/19.

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The comparative figures from April to December have risen from 18,454 incidents in 2018/19 to 21,929 incidents in 2019/20.

MORE: Nearly 9,000 children living with domestic abuse in Suffolk and Essex - figures revealMike Lilley, Colchester Borough Council portfolio holder for communities, wellbeing and public safety, said: "While domestic violence can happen to both men and women, the statistics show that women are at significantly greater risk, with one woman in four experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes and four times more women than men were killed by their partner or ex-partner.

"I am delighted that we have received this funding which will enable us to build on the support available across Colchester, Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon and Tendring. It not only supports the ambition of a Better Colchester, but also a better life for any woman and her children in the area suffering domestic violence."

Over the last two years, Next Chapter has supported more than 1,800 women in the community and over 180 women and 220 children in the refuge itself.

For the same period, they have been unable to accommodate over 295 women and 280 children due to lack of bed-spaces.

Lorna Preece, refuge accommodation and complex needs manager and Jocelyn Van Bruggen, children and young persons service manager at Next Chapter, said: "We are delighted that we have been awarded these vital funds to enable us to expand our life-saving services and continue our successful partnership working with the five local councils involved in the bid.

"We are also excited that the additional funding will enable us to continue providing services for women with complex and multiple needs, who, for too-long have been denied the vital support they need by virtue of their complex-needs. "Working with Open Road, the drug and alcohol charity based in Colchester, the award will allow us to continue to fund specialist drug and alcohol services, targeting support for women historically hidden from services and from hard to reach communities.

"Importantly, this new funding will enable us to provide specialist support for children and young people within the family who often live with hidden harm. By providing an integrated approach we can help our families recover and heal together to bring about sustainable change.

"We know that these services will make a lasting change to the lives of women and children in Colchester, Chelmsford, Tendring, Braintree and Maldon and provide them with the life-changing opportunity of a life free from domestic abuse."

MORE: 'Extremely dangerous time' - women fleeing domestic violence left 'feeling powerless' by fear of povertyDeputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex Jane Gardner, who chairs the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board, said: "We are delighted to welcome investment of almost £500,000 into Essex by MHCLG following the successful bid by Colchester Borough Council.

"The provision of specialist support for those victims and survivors of domestic abuse with the most complex needs is vital, and this project will continue to see local provision of an innovative and impactful response to support and empower these women and their children to recover from their experiences."

Suffolk County Council missed out on funding after submitting a £140,000 bid.

A spokesman for the authority said: "Suffolk County Council worked with a range of partners to submit a bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for a one year fund of £140,000 to enable increased capacity to our satellite refuge provision, which provides sanctuary for victims fleeing domestic abuse.

"On this occasion the bid was unsuccessful, however over the past four years Suffolk has received over £700,000 in funding from the Ministry to help support the most vulnerable victims of domestic abuse.

"We are committed to working with our partners to continue to look for funding opportunities to ensure victims of domestic abuse in Suffolk are safe and supported."

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