Council helps survivors of domestic abuse
Allerdale Borough Council has been highlighting the work carried out by its housing team to support those impacted by domestic abuse, as part the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.
Last month saw the international launch of the 16 days with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The campaign which runs from 25 November until 10 December, highlights the issue of gender-based violence, including against men as well as in the workplace.
The council has a strategic approach to helping those most in need with staff on hand to provide support as quickly as possible. As the Council’s Domestic Abuse – Specialist Support officer, Megan Nixon, leads a team of three people (though currently with one vacancy) helping those in abusive relationships who need support with accommodation.
“In the past twelve months, we have helped 66 people who were in abusive relationships”, says Megan. “This could be as a result on physical abuse, controlling behaviour, financial or emotional abuse, or blackmail. We’ve seen cases between couples, or between parents and children.”
“When an individual contacts us we often have to work quickly,” says Megan. “Our top priority is to assess the housing situation and provide safe and secure accommodation. We now have two temporary housing units for those who need our support and accommodation, which we can access 24 hours a day if necessary. We are also currently having a further eight homes assessed from a safety perspective and so hope to have more accommodation available soon.
“We’ll obviously also work our partner agencies to assess any other needs and provide the necessary support.
“To help people feel safe if they stay in their homes we also provide other safety measures such as personal alarms, door jammers/wedges, window locks and other devices. We also work with the police crime prevention officer to introduce simple but effective measures such as door peep holes, outdoor cameras, safety lights and anti-arson letter boxes.
“Unfortunately, we often see people who need our support over the Christmas period due to the stresses it can bring. Covid-19 has not helped either with further pressure on relationships from lockdowns and the added financial and emotional stresses.
If someone is in imminent danger, they should always contact the police on 999. For help with housing issues people should contact the team directly to 01900 702660 or by email: email@example.com . The team is on standby 24 hours if needed.
The work of the team is certainly appreciated by those they have supported in recent months.
One domestic abuse survivor helped by the team commented: “The support I've received from Allerdale council has been amazing and has exceeded my expectations. Megan has been able to provide support ranging from providing practical guidance and information on the official/legal processes, applying for financial support, bringing items I needed moving into a new property with nothing, liaising with the police and the other agencies involved, pushing for a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), and providing much needed emotional support. She has been a listening ear throughout and regularly checks up on me and reassures me that everything is moving in the right direction. I'm very grateful that I've been able to access all this support, and had I known it would be available I might have left my abuser sooner...”
A MARAC is where representatives from local Police, Registered Providers, Homeless Teams, Health and Social Care Practitioners, Probation and other specialists meet to discuss what can be done to increase safety for those that are referred.
Another said: “I would just like to say the ladies at Allerdale that helped me through my really difficult time were fantastic. They supported me through a very hard time, they phoned me every week to see how I was doing and were there if I needed to talk, they gave me good advice and were very caring and understanding, and I praise them all for what they did for me.”
Councillor Marion Fitzgerald, portfolio holder for Policy, Governance and People Resources, added: “I'm immensely proud of the work the team does to help and support people who need temporary accommodation to get them out of an abusive relationship. It is obviously not an easy job, but one which can make a real difference to people’s lives.”
Part of the campaign is also to highlight what businesses and employers can do to aid their employees who endure domestic violence, train those who witness it, and protect staff as a whole, with the goal of securing safety and mitigating financial loss. More information can be found at 16 days website .
If anyone is experiencing domestic abuse and feel frightened of, or controlled by, a partner, an ex-partner or family member they can also contact the council or any of the below support services for support and advice. If they are in any immediate danger, they should contact 999.
- Allerdale Borough Council Homeless Team – 03031231702 / 01900 702660
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 08082000247
- Victim Support – 03003030157 - 08081689111
- ManKind - 01823334244