Bristol will be receiving over £1 million to tackle domestic abuse and offer support to survivors such as therapy, advocacy, and counselling in safe accommodation away from abusers.
The funding was announced by the government last week (12 February) in advance of a statutory duty that is expected to come into effect for councils later this year, if the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill becomes law.
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig, said: “Domestic abuse affects many people and has far-reaching and lifelong consequences, and tackling it remains a top priority. We have responded to a significant rise in victims reaching out for support during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the funding means that we can continue and improve the support available, to get them and their families the specialist support they need.
“Over the last year we have been working with a range of partners including Next Link, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and SARSAS on a Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse, and we look forward to presenting our report at the next One City Gathering on 12 March. The report sets out a series of principles and key recommendations that will not only help to prevent domestic abuse, but also support survivors so they can move forward with their lives.”
The council has taken action to help the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic, ensuring vital services remain accessible including helplines, online provision and temporary accommodation. Emergency funding was also utilised during the first lockdown to set up a temporary safe house and recruit a specialist worker to support survivors from Black, Asian and Minority Ethic (BAME) backgrounds.
In addition, last summer, the council - on behalf of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership - launched the Are you OK? campaign to encourage people who are at risk of domestic abuse to access support services. The campaign highlights how to spot signs for concern and asks citizens to consider whether friends, family and neighbours could be struggling or at risk.
Ivan Powell, Chair of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership, said: “Our priority is to make sure the most vulnerable in the city are protected from harm. We do not want to see anyone living in fear, and this funding enables us to continue to work hard with our partners to make sure people are safe.”
The Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership website has information available for anyone who may be experiencing domestic abuse or looking to find help for their loved ones: bristolsafeguarding.org/areyouok. The police should be called if anyone is in immediate danger.