£1.5m new Welsh Government funding will help victims and survivors of domestic abuse to Live Fear Fre

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, today announced that VAWDASV (violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence) services in Wales are set to receive an additional £1.5m in revenue to help them respond to increased demands on services as a result of Covid-19.

The new funding is in addition to the existing £5.25m announced in this year’s budget, and will aim to help VAWDASV service providers to cope with an expected spike in demand once lockdown measures are lifted.

Welsh Government will work with VAWDASV partners and specialist providers to allocate funding on a needs-led basis, and in the simplest and quickest way possible. The following areas will be prioritised for support:

  • Helping VAWDASV service providers to prepare for and meet additional demand for support as lockdown measures are eased, including taking precautions against the spread of Covid-19
  • Support for children and young people suffering domestic abuse
  • Staff training to provide cover for members of staff who are shielding, and to meet increased staffing needs due to demand
  • Services to support behavioural change in perpetrators of abuse
  • Additional resources to reduce backlogs and free up capacity for those needing urgent support

The Minister also launched the next phase of the ‘Home shouldn’t be a place of fear’ campaign to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse through lockdown and beyond.

Around 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 6 men, experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. It is impossible to measure the scale of abuse taking place during lockdown, but there is strong evidence to suggest it’s on the rise.

Visits to the Live Fear Free website have increased by 144% in the last month and there were 1,683 homepage visits made in April compared with 690 in March.

There is a definite link between life pressures – for example economic hardship, fears about employment, and the frustration arising from current lockdown restrictions – and abuse, though there is never an excuse.

During lockdown, calls to domestic abuse helplines have changed significantly, becoming more complex, and more lengthy (now nearly twice the 3.18 minute pre-Covid-19 average). Services are beginning to hear from victims who tell them that once lockdown is over they intend to leave their abusers.

Jane Hutt said:

“I’m delighted to announce this new funding, which will help those who have been suffering control, manipulation, harassment, physical and sexual abuse as well as violence, and who badly need support.

“We know that domestic abuse has been made much worse by being stuck at home with your abuser during lockdown. As lockdown measures ease, I hope that it will become easier and safer for victims and survivors to access the support they need

“Home shouldn’t be a place of fear. If you’re experiencing control at home, or are concerned about someone, I want you to know that you are not alone. Help is available from the Live Fear Free helpline, 24 hours a day.”

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“This is an incredibly difficult time for so many people, but it is particularly difficult for those who are facing a greater risk of abuse during lockdown. It is alarming to see the rapid rise in calls for help, although sadly it is not unexpected.

“I have protected this funding as a priority during the Covid-19 crisis to retain and enhance vital services across the sector, to bolster their resilience and ensure they are able to provide urgent support to those that need it.”

CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid, Sara Kirkpatrick, said:

“Welsh Women’s Aid warmly welcome the news of this £1.575 million for the sector, which will assist specialist services in continuing to provide lifesaving and life-changing support to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

“We are delighted that this revenue will be focused on supporting the priority areas highlighted by our members, both directly to Welsh Government, and via the VAWDASV Covid-19 Strategic Group.

“This funding is especially critical right now – reflecting on global evidence, we can expect to see the number of survivors who are able and wanting to access support surge as lockdown measures ease across the country. It is vitally important that services are able to meet the needs of all survivors who need help.”

ENDS

 

Notes:

  • The Live Fear Free helpline is a free 24/7 service for all victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence and those close to them, including family, friends and colleagues.  It will remain open and offering a full service during the coronavirus emergency.
    • Helpline: 0808 8010 800
    • Text: 078600 77333
    • Live chat: https://gov.wales/live-fear-free/contact-live-fear-free
    • Silent support is available via text, web-chat and email, if victims aren’t able to speak.
    • If you’re worried about how you are treating your partner and want advice and support to change your behaviour, contact the Respect helpline:

The Respect helpline is anonymous and confidential.

It offers advice and support to those who may be harming their partners, and want advice and support to change their behaviour.

  • The Welsh Government has made considerable new funding available to third sector organisations in order for them to meet growing demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This includes a package of support worth £24 million. Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Services are eligible for this funding and we strongly encourage them to apply.
  • The Minister for Housing and Local Government, also announced a £10 million funding package to provide emergency temporary accommodation to vulnerable groups, including those fleeing domestic abuse and sexual violence during the Covid-19 crisis.  This funding also supports staffing and welfare of clients.
  • The VAWDASV revenue budget has risen by £0.25m this year to £5.25 million. We have allocated the majority of the increase to grant recipients and informed them it can be used to respond to emerging needs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • For 2020-21 a new £1.2 million fund was agreed to support disbursed accommodation.  We have worked with regions to enable this funding to be allocated quickly to meet the expected upsurge in demand following removal of restrictions on movement.
  • We know that the lockdown measures have created additional pressure.  We repurposed £200k capital funding (f/y 2020-21) to support the immediate need for furnishings, white goods, IT equipment, phones, outdoor and indoor play equipment for accommodation-based services that fall under local authority provision.
  • The main VAWDASV capital grant is also open, with a simplified application form, for bids up to £50k. The total funding available under this scheme is £792k. In the short term this was prioritised for meeting the needs that have resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic. To date we have funded 25 projects and allocated just under £236k.
  • The VAWDASV capital grant scheme remains open for further proposal, for capital items required by providers to enable face to face support to resume . At the same time we are also accepting applications for non-Covid-19 related expenditure such as target hardening equipment, refuge and office refurbishment

Constituency news and update

There has been a lot of news apart from Covid-19 in recent weeks so in my latest joint newsletter with Gerald Jones MP we try to update on some of the local projects and investment news in the constituency.

Thanks to the Welsh Government for many of these funding decisions including the funding for the bus station in Merthyr Tydfil.

(Welsh Transport Minister Ken Skates MS at Merthyr bus station site before lockdown with Dawn and Cllr Dai Chick Jones).

You can read the newsletter here:

Joint Update Newsletter 29th June

Joint statement- We welcome the progress made in securing full A&E services in Cwm Taf Morgannwg

JOINT STATEMENT BY DAWN BOWDEN MS AND GERALD JONES MP

MERTHYR TYDFIL AND RHYMNEY

 

We welcome the progress made in securing full A&E services in Cwm Taf Morgannwg

We are both pleased to hear that considerable progress has been made “in addressing historical and recent safety concerns and in laying the groundwork for safe and sustainable service delivery in the future” which will see the emergency department retained in full at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

After recent discussions it is very welcome news that Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has “concluded that the most appropriate way forward is for the Health Board to commit to the progressing of the further work needed to ensure the safe and sustainable delivery of 24/7 consultant-led emergency department services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Prince Charles Hospital and Princess of Wales Hospital”.

Along with fellow Welsh Labour MPs and MS’s in Cwm Taf Morgannwg we wrote to the Health Board earlier this year to highlight our concerns over the potential closure of the A&E department, and we are delighted that these vital services for local residents has now been retained in full. We know that this will be welcome news for our constituents who use these services.