Providing a home for domestic abuse survivors
9th March 2021
This week is NO MORE Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence. To mark the week our Director of Housing Gary Brookes shares the work that is happening in Walsall to support survivors of domestic abuse:
A survey by Women’s Aid released last year revealed that more than two-thirds of domestic abuse survivors who stay with their perpetrators said concerns around future housing were a barrier to leaving.
There is no doubt that more needs to be done to support those fleeing domestic violence, and that’s why I welcome the Domestic Abuse (DA) Bill 2019-2021, which will become law in April 2021.
This new law will mean that councils will have a legal responsibility to offer support and accommodation to victims of domestic abuse and their children. Of course, many already do this, but this rule will mean that domestic abuse survivors are automatically given priority need for housing.
The law could not have come any sooner. We know that the last 12 months have seen a huge increase in incidents of domestic abuse, with lockdown measures forcing domestic abuse survivors to live in close proximity to their perpetrators.
Alongside my role at whg, I am also chair of the DA Strategy Group, Safer Walsall Priority Lead for Domestic Abuse. The new Domestic Abuse law will have huge implications for how we work and better support domestic abuse survivors, and we are now preparing services across the borough to make sure we are ready.
The Safer Walsall Partnership has completed a domestic abuse needs assessment that has identified several areas for improvement in service provision and plans are in place to address these. We have launched a number of training events to increase knowledge among practitioners in areas such as female genital mutilation and coercive control. Practitioners can sign up for these here.
We have also worked with Black Country Women’s Aid and Walsall Council’s Children’s Services to bid for an additional seven Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors. These advisors will offer confidential advice and practical and emotional support including a safe place to talk.
Those at risk of domestic abuse should never feel they have to stay at home and suffer. With the upcoming ratification of the DA bill I hope we are one step further to ensuring this is never the case and that all domestic abuse survivors can access the right type of housing to enable them to rebuild their lives.
For more resources on domestic abuse, please click here.