A coalition of 11 women’s sector organisations have launched a petition calling for more funding for community-based domestic abuse services.
The organisations are Refuge, End Violence Against Women Coalition, Women’s Aid, SafeLives, Solace Women’s Aid, Southall Black Sisters, Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS), IRISi, Imkaan, Agenda Alliance and LAWRS. The coalition is calling for the Secretary of State for Justice to act now to help survivors of domestic abuse struggling to access the support they need in local communities around the country.
The petition asks for funding of at least £238 million per year to specialist domestic abuse community-based services to be delivered through the Victims and Prisoners Bill. The funding is needed to reach survivors including some of the most marginalised women and their children who experience significant barriers in seeking help.
This includes a call for a separate, national ‘by and for’ funding pot to be established alongside this to provide long overdue investment for specialist services for D/deaf and disabled, LGBTQ+, Black, minoritised, and migrant women, including those with no recourse to public funds.
Research by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner found that, in 2022, less than 50% of survivors who wanted to access community-based services were able to do so.
The estimated annual funding shortfall for organisations led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women is between £63mn and £114mn.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“The Victims Bill was supposed to transform victims’ experiences, but in its current form does nothing to address the uncertainty around funding for vital community-based support services. The work of these services is crucial to longer term recovery, resilience, self-esteem and therapeutic work for survivors of violence against women and girls, as well as having massive direct cost saving implications for other parts of the state. Instead of delivering the sustainable funding specialist support services desperately need, the government are resourcing new proposals on parole that shoehorn in objectives from the widely criticised Bill of Rights. This should alarm anyone who cares about victims’ rights to access support, recovery and justice.”
Indy Cross, Chief Executive of Agenda Alliance, commented:
“Community-based services are a bedrock for women fleeing domestic abuse, but with increasing financial pressures, services are unable to keep up with the growing rate of women needing support. The Victims and Prisoners Bill is a clear opportunity to provide the funding they need to deliver these services and response better to women with multiple unmet needs, by providing trauma-, gender-, age-, and culturally- responsive support. An additional funding pot must be created for organisations led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women.”