A coalition of 11 women’s sector organisations have launched a petition calling for more funding for community-based domestic abuse services.
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 are together 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.
The estimated annual funding shortfall for organisations led “by and for” Black and minoritised women is between £63m and £114m.
Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said:
“Community-based services are a lifeline for so many survivors of domestic abuse. At Refuge, 95% of the survivors we supported last year utilised these services, which offer support throughout the survivor’s journey to a life free from abuse. However, for so many services up and down the country, current financial pressures mean that it’s becoming harder for frontline service providers to meet the rising demand for support.
We need a commitment from the government that they will allocate sustainable, ring-fenced funding to community-based services so that every survivor can access specialist support when they need it.”
Elizabeth Jiménez-Yáñez, Policy and Communications Manager on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) at Latin American Women’s Rights Service, said:
“For many survivors, community-based services, especially those led ‘by and for’, are their only haven when fleeing abuse. Accessing specialist services makes a significant difference in the lives of those harmed by violence against women and girls and institutional abuse. However, chronic underfunding limits the opportunity for the most vulnerable to be supported whilst creating unfair pressure on these life-saving services. The Victims and Prisoners Bill offers an opportunity to make things right by providing sustainable funding to benefit survivors and the public interest.”
Farah Nazeer, CEO, Women’s Aid said:
“The Victims and Prisoners Bill could be an opportunity to place victims at the heart of the justice system however, we are concerned that it does not go far enough to lead to meaningful change for survivors of domestic abuse. In particular the lack of any recognition of the need to prioritise specialist support for victims in this Bill. Women’s Aid’s recent report shows that every pound invested in domestic abuse support services represents a £9 saving to the public purse – demonstrating a clear economic case for commissioning specialist local services, on top of the immense benefits of these services having the knowledge and expertise to properly support survivors.”
Nahar Choudhary, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid said:
“Our research shows us that survivors experience abuse for nearly seven years, on average, before they reach Solace. The impact and trauma of this abuse affects them for very long time. Sadly, 42% of those accessing our community services reach crisis point more than once and often need our repeated support. With better funded services, more survivors are likely to end the cycle of abuse and get the longer-term support they deserve.”