Funding boosts support for domestic abuse survivors

Support for survivors of domestic abuse is being stepped up after a successful bid by Turning Lives Around to secure funding to the tune of more than £80,000.

The funding, which was awarded by Leeds City Council, from additional funds they had received from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), will fund the appointment of two domestic abuse specialist support coordinators.

They will join the team at Beacon Leeds, the city-wide housing-related support accommodation service, which TLA delivers in partnership with fellow charities Touchstone and Foundation. The service works with vulnerable adults, couples and families to prevent homelessness and address housing needs.

As part of a 12-month pilot project, recruitment of the coordinators will enhance the specialist support Beacon is able to provide to clients while also raising awareness and helping to train staff as to the bespoke nature of the care needed around domestic abuse.

Service Coordinator for Beacon Leeds James Allen explained: “Not only are many of our clients survivors of domestic abuse, but sadly the pandemic has seen an upsurge in domestic violence in the last 18 months, so it is something we are coming across more frequently.

“Providing support for survivors of domestic abuse is something of a bespoke role. Not only do the people who take on these new roles need to be experienced in working in this area, but they will also be aware of the other agencies who can help, plus the legalities involved in dealing with solicitors and the court process.”

The coordinators will either work within Beacon’s three Intensive Support Environments (ISEs) plus Carr Beck (TLA’s accommodation and support service for women aged 16+ who are alcohol dependent) or support the dispersed accommodation services provided by Beacon, TLA, Touchstone and Foundation.

One will also take the lead on support for male survivors of domestic abuse: an area that is becoming more prevalent but is often overlooked.

“Male victims of domestic abuse are in the minority but are no less significant, with abuse occurring both in male/female and same-sex relationships. 

Men are much less likely to consider themselves victims of domestic abuse (they may not even be aware they have been subjected to it). Having someone skilled in helping them "open up", identify and understand what has happened to them, assisting them to "move on" will be invaluable. 

The coordinators will also help raise awareness within the service that domestic abuse against men is an issue and show how to approach it effectively, empathetically and supportively,” said James.

As well as directly supporting clients who are survivors of domestic abuse, an integral part of the new coordinator role will be to upskill their fellow support workers, hence building a legacy beyond the pilot project.

Training in domestic abuse will form both a part of staff induction and be included in personal development plans. They will also provide advice and guidance to key workers on the support they provide to survivors on a one-to-one basis and through reflective team sessions.

“This is a 12-month pilot. We hope it can continue beyond this, but if not, we want to build a legacy so that we are better placed in terms of awareness, understanding and skills needed to provide better support to domestic abuse survivors in future,” said James.