New domestic abuse support for Rugby residents

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TWO new services to provide accommodation and support to anyone experiencing domestic abuse will be available to Rugby residents from April this year.

Following a competitive tendering exercise, Warwickshire County Council and partners can now announce that a refuge service will be provided by national charity Refuge, whilst Stonham – the care and support division of UK wide housing association Home Group will be delivering a comprehensive support service from spring 2012.

Around 8,000 incidents of domestic abuse are reported to Warwickshire Police every year and the new services will be able to support with these cases as well as offer information and advice to anyone affected by abuse whether or not they choose to report.

The refuge service will include 18 units of refuge accommodation spread across the county. It will meet the needs of all women experiencing domestic abuse from all of Warwickshire’s communities. Out of county refuge arrangements will still be available where required to keep victims and their children safe.

The domestic abuse support element will incorporate a range of services including legal advocacy, housing related floating support, open access advice and information, a specialist helpline and dedicated support for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual transgender victims, male victims, and black and ethnic minority communities. Additionally the service will provide multi-agency risk assessment and Sanctuary Scheme management to help victims to stay in their own homes.

The new model of integrated support with a single point of contact for victims and referral agencies will help streamline transfer between different services to make sure people get all the support they need.

Another benefit is the sustainability of the model. Joint commissioning by Warwickshire County Council and the district and borough councils will ensure funding is spent in the most efficient and effective ways. Value for money is also given as a reduction in number of service providers brings down premises and management overheads.

The change signifies a shift from several individual contracts for adult community, inpatient and criminal justice substance misuse services previously offered in each area, into a more integrated treatment system.

Warwickshire County Council along with district and borough councils commissioned the services in order to widen the range of help available and ensure value for money by reducing overheads.

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “The remodelled services will increase the range of services available with access through a single point of contact with clear pathways between services for victims and referring agencies.

“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 and commissioning jointly across the county will encourage better use of resources and enable the providers and users to benefit from economies of scale.”

Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge said: “Refuge currently provides a refuge service in some areas of the county so we are very pleased to be able to expand our service and deliver a county wide service from April. These services are a lifeline for women and children escaping domestic abuse.”

Rachael Byrne, Home Group’s executive director of Care and Support, said: “Stonham has a strong pedigree of helping those who suffer from domestic abuse. “We are well established in Warwickshire and looking forward to working closely with the County Council and Refuge.”

The contract across the county is worth £2.1million over two years.

Domestic abuse services are currently available as normal in the county ahead of the new services becoming available.

Anyone seeking information and support about domestic abuse can still access the Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse Talk 2 Someone free helpline on 0800 408 1552, available between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 4pm Saturday.

There is also a website – www.talk2someone.org.uk - which offers information and support for victims, families, friends and neighbours as well as perpetrators, who may be looking to turn things around.

Further information is also available at www.refuge.org.uk

If you are in immediate danger contact Warwickshire Police by dialling 999 -. Warwickshire Police can also be contacted on 01926 415000.