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Extra support for ‘high risk’ Suffolk domestic abuse victims to be made available

PUBLISHED: 13:35 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 22 February 2019

The University of Suffolk is carrying out a two year study into Suffolk's refuge services for domestic abuse victims. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The University of Suffolk is carrying out a two year study into Suffolk's refuge services for domestic abuse victims. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A project which gave more than 70 high risk victims of domestic abuse additional security is to be extended for another 12 months.

Councillor James Reeder, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, said he was delighted to have secured the extra funding for domestic abuse support. Picture: SCC/SIMON LEECouncillor James Reeder, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, said he was delighted to have secured the extra funding for domestic abuse support. Picture: SCC/SIMON LEE

Various public sector services contributed to a £20,000 pot that was used to provide additional safeguarding such as locks and bolts for the homes of 72 people who were deemed high risk, with the aim of enabling them to stay in their own homes.

The scheme, which ran from April to December last year, was considered so successful that Suffolk County Council’s bid for a further £20,000 from central government was approved, allowing it to continue for another 12 months.

Councillor James Reeder, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health, said: “This scheme is making people feel safer.

“It has been well-received by those it has already helped, who have appreciated the timing and quality of the service.

“Being able to remain safe in their own homes and communities reduces the isolation felt by victims and their families, not to mention eliminating the trauma and financial burden of being re-housed.

“It enhances their self-confidence and helps them to become more independent and strive towards rebuilding their lives.

“We are delighted that further funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will enable us to continue the scheme for at least another 12 months.”

Among the additional measures provided are upgraded locks, bolt fittings, personal safety alarms, timers for interior lighting and property marking kits.

Meanwhile, the University of Suffolk has been commissioned to carry out a two-year study into refuge services in the county and their effectiveness.

The report will assess the three refuge’s currently on offer and evaluate which services within that work well and which haven’t, before presenting a series of recommendations.

Dr Olumide Adisa, the principal investigator in the study, said: “Many individuals fleeing domestic abuse rely on the provision of emergency refuge accommodation, which also offer residents support with a range of other needs including housing, education, accessing benefits, employment, immigration or health and wellbeing.

“Local authorities are responsible for commissioning refuges and other safe accommodation in their area and are also subject to the duty to provide accommodation for victims of domestic abuse facing homelessness.

“However, it is thought that the current provision of refuge spaces does not meet the level of demand or the needs of victims who may need additional specialist support, for example, for BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] women, disabled people, women with older children, and older women.

“This evaluation will help shed light on what works and areas for improvement.”

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