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Background

Council domestic abuse support service saves lives

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MORE THAN 100 people affected by domestic violence have been supported by Copeland Council.

Since the Council introduced a specialist role to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation, the Council has supported 55 women and men, and 50 children who were all homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The Prevention and Crisis Support Officer has been in place since January 2018, ensuring vulnerable people can get the housing and support they need.

In addition to the role, the council also provides emergency accommodation to those in need to ensure they have a safe place to stay. Three of these properties have been expertly designed specifically for people with children.

One service user said: “After a recent realisation that I had been in an abusive relationship for 19 years, I decided to leave my marriage.

“The support that I received was invaluable. Without this I doubt I would be here today.

“I have tried to leave in the past but would always return. However, having this support really made a difference.”

Another said: “I couldn’t have asked for a more friendly and supportive team than these people.

“They have helped with all aspects of support and gone above and beyond, helping me and my children.

“If they hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have made the progress I have, if any at all.”

Cumbria Constabulary reported 549 incidents of domestic abuse in Copeland over a six-month period, between November 2018 and April 2019 (inclusive).

Each year nearly 2 million people in the UK suffer from some form of domestic abuse.

Seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

130,000 children live in homes where there is high-risk domestic abuse.

Source: Safe Lives (2019) www.safelives.org.uk

To contact the Council’s Prevention and Crisis Support Officer email housing.options@copeland.gov.uk or call 01946 598300.

The council advises that anyone who believes they are in immediate danger of abuse or exploitation should call 999 immediately. Those who are affected by these issues but are not homeless, or at risk of homelessness, should call the National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or email helpline@refuge.org.uk

Case study

Angela* got in touch with our officer in the first week of the new role, initially reluctantly as she thought we wouldn’t be able to help her.

She had been with her partner for more than 20 years, and suffered from physical, sexual and emotional abuse and coercive behaviour. Because of the abuse, at the hands of her partner, Angela had attempted to commit suicide in the previous twelve months. Angela was offered mental health support but stopped this help at her partner’s request.

On the morning she arrived at our offices she thought her partner was going to kill her after an argument in the home and managed to escape whilst he was burning her belongings in the back garden.

Our specialist officer provided the urgent support Angela needed in order to leave that day including proving emergency accommodation, food, a mobile phone, clothing and personal items. Angela had left the home with only a small handbag carrying her medication.

Our officer worked intensively with Angela, five days per-week initially, and supported her to; make police statements, claim Universal Credit, make an application to clear existing debts and attend a medical assessment. Angela was also signposted to the Freedom Project which supports victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

Angela was also helped to find permanent accommodation for her and her son in a specially adapted property which had extra security measures to help them feel safe and secure in their new home. Angela continued to make regular contact with our officer by text, phone call or face-to-face visits until she felt she no longer needed this support.

Angela credits our officer with helping to save her life and now wants to support others in a similar situation through voluntary work in the community.

Published: 22 May 2019 - 9:47am