Domestic violence workers in Regent Street lose £2.1 county contract

Domestic Violence Support Services, face an uncertain future as Warwickshire County Council select a cheaper alternative.''Pictured: Wendy Huckle & Gemma Griffiths (Drop-in Volunteers).
Domestic Violence Support Services, face an uncertain future as Warwickshire County Council select a cheaper alternative.''Pictured: Wendy Huckle & Gemma Griffiths (Drop-in Volunteers).
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DOMESTIC violence support workers in Rugby are bitterly disappointed after losing out on a major funding contract from Warwickshire County Council.

Warwickshire Domestic Violence Support Services, based in Regent Street, missed out on the council’s £2.1m contract renewal deal, meaning that from spring two national agencies, Refuge and Stonham Services, will be responsible for helping domestic violence victims. The decision was taken partly to save money.

Wendy Huckle, chair and former manager of WDVSS, said: “I don’t think it is too dramatic to say we are absolutely devastated. Over the past 20 years we believed we had built a reputation as a service provider that was highly valued by the clients, funders and our partner agencies.

“We had always done everything that was expected of us – and more – and had done it in a fair, honest, cost-effective and committed way. We know we had to compete with others and that we were not a national organisation with lots of resources, but there are few organisations that know more about domestic violence than us.”

The organisation received a glowing report in its last evaluation and 50 per cent of its workers have personal experience of domestic violence issues.

Becky, a service user, who turned to the organisation after abuse from her parter, told the Advertiser: “I was absolutely gutted when I heard the news - if it wasn’t for the support I had here I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now. I’d still be suffering.

“They are more than just support workers here, they are also friends – but only in the context of support workers. So now the service won’t be used by the council it feels like I have lost some of my best friends. It takes a long time to build up the trust you need to be able to discuss your problems and for some women here it might take months to get used to the new service provider.”

She added: “This organisation has a great reputation among women in Rugby and I just hope they feel comfortable going elsewhere with their problems.”

Cllr Richard Hobbs, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “The new services will increase the range of help available with access through a single point of contact. These changes will build on the good performance of current providers in protecting victims and will provide support to a wider range of people experiencing domestic abuse.

“Reducing the number of providers will also encourage better use of resources.”