A THREE-year strategy that provides further support and safe accommodation to domestic abuse victims was approved by cabinet.

Within the Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy 2021 to 2024, which is a new legal requirement for councils, it lays out six priorities to ensure victims and their families have access to safe, good quality accommodation that meets their needs.

These priorities are access to safe accommodation, support to remain safely at home, perpetrator management, coordinated support, victim representation, and improved data collection across services.

Government funds of £241,000 will be used to ensure domestic abuse victims and their children can access the right support in safe accommodation when they need it.

Speaking at cabinet on Thursday, February 24, Rebecca Spiller from the domestic abuse victims support charity Domestic Abuse Stops Here (DASH), said this was a “really good opportunity” for the council to further enhance its support DASH is already offering.

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She said: “Removing a victim when their family from home is the last resort option but unfortunately it always is an option that needs to be there. Our helplines are always from people looking for refuge space.”

The strategy was developed following a public consultation and partner engagement with police, DASH, and other partners, where a majority of respondents said access to safe accommodation has to be a top priority.

Domestic abuse nationally has been increasing during the pandemic, especially during lockdown where everyone had to stay at home.

Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con: Cox Green), lead member for housing, said: “There’s never any excuse or reason for domestic abuse and we will always take a zero-tolerance approach and we will always stand behind any victims of domestic abuse, and we will always do what we can to help.”

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Domestic abuse can in other forms than violence or sexual violence. It can also be psychological, financial, and emotional abuse.

Cllr Donna Stimson (Con: St Mary’s) said this was “very close to home” for her as she lived in a domestic abuse situation for 13 years while raising three children.

She said: “Whilst the police were able to help, it was very lonely and I think the more we know about DASH, the better for everybody.”

“You never realise what’s happening around you,” Cllr Stimson added,” and people think everybody’s lives can be perfect but actually in homes or close to us, there are a lot of people suffering.”