Accommodation support for domestic abuse survivors in Cambridgeshire outlined
Safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse in Cambridgeshire has been outlined in a new report.
The county council has been allocated more than £1.1 million following the passing of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 which places a duty on local authorities to provide suitable accommodation for survivors.
Details of how the money will be spent (which will increase local provision, rather than replace it) have now been outlined in a new report by council assistant director for community safety Rob Hill, and are outlined below.
The county council said it has seen an 18 per cent increase in referrals to its IDVA (independent domestic violence advisors) service compared to the previous year. In particular, it has seen increases in referrals for young people (+64 per cent) and Eastern Europeans (+109 per cent).
Outreach services have also seen an increase in referrals with an increase from 557 to 802 for Refuge and 567 to 977 for Cambridge Women’s Aid, compared to the previous year.
Safe accommodation spending
Dispersed Safe Accommodation
. Safe accommodation for survivors and their children who are not able to live in a communal facility, people who need a carer, large families, those with disabilities, people with pets, male victims, families with teenage boys, people from the LGBT+ community and black, Asian and minority ethnic survivors whose needs are not met with traditional refuges.
. Being supported in these homes means the survivor may be able to maintain their occupation where this is assessed as safe. Survivors will also still be able to access their support network if safe to do so, and they would have regular support provided by one of five housing IDVAs who would help them to move back to their own homes if safe to do so.
. Homes will be sought from landlords for a period of a year, which would be extended on announcement of further funding. The properties would be furnished and available across the county, with an aim of a minimum of two properties per district (10 in total).
. During their stay, officers will support the survivors to look at their long-term plans for housing and work with them to find their forever home.
. A programme manager will oversee the development of the work and work closely with district council housing teams, specialist domestic abuse services and a range of other partners.
Refuge Support Costs
The Government funding will enable continuation of the funding of refuge provision across Cambridgeshire. There are currently three refuges across the county, with the current providers being Cambridge Women’s Aid and Refuge.
. The contracts end in March 2022 with councillors asked to agree to the recommissioning of this provision from April 2022 onwards as part of a joint commissioning process with Peterborough City Council.
. Housing First is an approach which uses stable housing to support people experiencing complex issues to improve their outcomes.
. The proposal is to have a Housing First role focussing on those who have suffered domestic abuse and find it difficult to engage with standard support services due to multiple disadvantages.
. Flexible funding supports survivors to achieve or maintain safe and secure housing.
. It is low-barrier and does not require victims/survivors to provide evidence of abuse. Unlike most other funding sources, there is no set list of what will be funded and survivors are encouraged to ask for whatever will make the most difference to their housing situation and their lives in order that they and their children can stay safe.
The Bobby Scheme works with specialist domestic abuse specialists to enable households at risk of further domestic abuse to remain in their own homes and reduce repeat victimisation through the provision of enhanced security measures.
. Funding would go towards the support costs of the security advisers and recruitment of an additional post.
Children’s Workers within Refuges
. These posts would work with children in the refuges and their mothers to rebuild relationships and to help the children cope and recover from the abuse they have experienced.
Therapeutic Support for those in Safe Accommodation
. Funding will enable provision of specialist therapeutic support to enable survivors to better cope and recover from the abuse they have experienced.
. The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance’s (DAHA) mission is to improve the housing sector’s response to domestic abuse through the introduction and adoption of an established set of standards and an accreditation process.
. Funding will extend the DAHA support post to support housing associations and local authorities to gain DAHA accreditation.
. This would fund administration and promotion of the managed reciprocals scheme across the county which facilitates tenancy moves across districts in Cambridgeshire.
Therapeutic Support for children experiencing domestic abuse
. Funding would provide counselling and therapeutic support for children who have experienced domestic abuse.
Additional Outreach Support in Huntingdonshire and Fenland
. Funding would be invested in additional outreach support to ensure survivors were identified and could access support at the earliest possibility.
Meanwhile, Cambridgeshire County Council has recently been re-accredited as a White Ribbon organisation.
The White Ribbon Campaign is part of a global initiative to end male violence against women, and the county council said it has a coordinated plan to promote these messages which are embedded within its newly reviewed Respect at Work policy.
More information on services for domestic abuse survivors can be found at: https://www.cambsdasv.org.uk/website/home.