Thousands of pounds for domestic abuse and sexual violence support groups
Thousands of pounds of extra cash is to be distributed by Wiltshire and Swindon's Police and Crime Commissioner, to local organisations who support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
In May, Angus Macpherson was allocated an extra £244,000 by the Ministry Of Justice to meet the additional, short term costs local organisations have or will incur whilst adapting their services due to Covid-19, and to cope with increased demands resulting from it. This funding allocation has now been increased to over £300,000 to support victims across the county.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) encouraged bids from local charities and eligible organisations who support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence and today (Friday 26 June) 20 of these organisations were agreed and signed off by the Ministry Of Justice.
The successful 20 organisations are:
Swindon Women's Aid
Wiltshire Users Network - promoting involvement and empowerment, ensuring voices are heard at all levels.
Hometruths - providing specialist services to anyone from the age of 16 who is, or has experienced domestic violence and abuse from partners or ex-partners, including stalking and harassment.
Wiltshire Neighbourhood Watch
Waste Not Want Not - based Chippenham - supporting homeless people, including victims of domestic abuse, to make a fresh start in their new homes.
HEALS - (Help, Empowerment and Local Support) a small local charity which supports people in Malmesbury and surrounding villages who may be in poverty, vulnerable or disadvantaged.
Spurgeons - supporting vulnerable children and families and protecting children from neglect, harm and abuse.
Highworth Church - A community church and safe places venue offering pastoral care, counselling and practical support for people.
AfiUK - based Swindon - supporting British African children and their families.
Youth Adventure Trust - helps vulnerable young people aged 11-16-years-old unlock their potential and lead positive lives in the future.
Nelson Trust - supporting people to achieve their potential by giving them the hope and confidence they need.
Firstlight - supporting people who have been affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence; helping thousands of men, women and children in the south west to lead safer lives, free from violence and abuse.
Revival - Wiltshire Rape and Sexual Assault Centre offers free, confidential counselling and support to male and female (13-years-old and above) survivors who have been raped, sexually abused or sexually exploited.
NSPCC Sexual Abuse Service - based Swindon.
Stonewater - providing a safe space for people in LGBTQ+ communities affected by domestic abuse.
There were a host of reasons given by each organisations for applying for the extra money - these included: the purchase of laptops and IT kit to enable video conferencing and homeworking, supplementing lost income due to the closure of charity shops, paying for additional staff and enabling the offer of more therapy sessions for victims of crime.
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: "The sign off of this additional funding by the Ministry Of Justice is very good news today.
"When the current pandemic hit us, it also drastically affected those help services people need.
"This will do so much good and supplement funding to those organisations which my office already support and those who also need some extra help for their valuable work.
"When the lockdown was announced, an increase in domestic abuse and sexual violence was expected; because of that and the fact we have worked hard over the past eight years to address these issues, we recognised that more initiatives are needed to encourage reporting and give victims confidence in how they will be helped by the police, local authorities, professional and 3rd sector partners providing specialist support."
The £300,000 has been divided like this:
Domestic abuse services the PCC already commissions: £126,000
Domestic abuse services not currently commissioned by the PCC: £102,000
Sexual violence services, whether already commissioned or not by the PCC: £74,000
OPCC Victims and Vulnerability Commissioning Manager, Maria Milton said:
"Today's news is very welcomed.
"This will really help make a difference to those domestic abuse and sexual violence victims.
"Many find it difficult to report, often because of a controlling relationship and often because they don't have faith in the system.
"Covid-19 has had a significant effect on all victims, and charities and organisations across the county have worked hard to ensure help and support are available.
"This extra money gives a boost to those organisations providing help, and will enable greater reach to those who need it."
Robert Buckland, Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Swindon South MP, said:
"In my role as Justice Secretary, I obtained and authorised this national government funding last month, so I am delighted to see this vital support being allocated so quickly in our local area.
"I am in regular contact with Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service and I know that the service has seen a huge increase in demand due to COVID-19, so this extra government funding is welcomed news.
"I would like to thank all those volunteers who are currently working hard to support those suffering from abuse at this difficult time.
"I would urge any man or woman who believes they may be suffering from abuse of any kind, including coercive control, psychological and/or emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial or economic abuse, harassment and stalking and online abuse, to reach out for support by calling the 24-hour helpline on 01793 610610 or by visiting www.swadomesticabuse.org."