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£500,000 to tackle domestic abuse

Following a successful bid led by Colchester Borough Council

Date issued:18 February 2020

Women from the borough, city and districts of Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, Maldon and Tendring will be able to get the specialist support they need to escape domestic violence, under a successful partnership that has been awarded over £500,000 in Government funding.

Under the scheme the five councils, Next Chapter and Open Road will work together to:

  • continue to support women who have complex issues like addiction to alcohol or drugs in addition to homelessness to ensure they get the support they need after suffering domestic abuse
  • ensure women with mental health issues arising from the abuse they have experienced, and/or barriers related to disability, sexuality, age, ethnicity or immigration status are referred to specialist support services
  • ensure women and their children not living in refuge accommodation can access and benefit from specialist, person-centred, trauma informed domestic abuse support services
  • continue to provide secure safe accommodation and access to support services for women and their children seeking to live independently after suffering domestic violence
  • support the improvement of women and their children’s health, wellbeing and quality of life for a successful future and avoiding further domestic abuse

The funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) follows a successful bid led by Colchester Borough Council and will support the project through to March 2021.

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

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.

Cllr Mike 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.”

Lorna Preece, Refuge Accommodation & 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 & 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.”

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