Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive is set to review and approve plans to increase funding into a new domestic abuse support service. The £1.5million contract would cover a five year period with the option to extend for a further two years.
Additional funding of £115,000 for 2021/22 has been requested to help manage the increased demand for services and additional statutory duties which are expected to be placed on Wokingham Borough Council.
The council plans to procure a new contract ahead of June 2021, when the current contract expires. At present the domestic abuse service is provided by Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA).
“Domestic abuse can happen against anyone and anybody can be an abuser. The council recognises that the effects are wide-ranging and have a serious impact on both adults and children, including their health and wellbeing,” said Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure.
“Ensuring easy access to information, specialist services, and multi-agency support is a vital part of keeping our residents safe. The council is responsible for providing domestic abuse support for victims seeking help and advice and individuals who are identified as being at high or medium risk of serious harm.”
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexuality, or background. Domestic abuse does not only occur between couples. It can also involve wider family members, including parental abuse by an adolescent or grown child. It can exist between older siblings, or the wider extended family in elder or honour-based abuse.
Investing in the domestic abuse support service is vital to ensuring effective support options are in place and available to protect vulnerable residents in line with the council’s aims to enabling safe, strong communities and changing the way Wokingham Borough Council works for its residents.
The new service would be available to all residents including a focus on increasing accessibility for BAME, male, LGBTQ+, and victims who have a disability.
The services set to be commissioned would include:
- a helpline
- access to specialist independent domestic abuse advocates (IDVA’s)
- outreach, children and young people support, group-based programmes
- refuge support
The council has recently employed a dedicated domestic abuse coordinator to increase coordination across the organisation. Work is already underway with current Domestic Abuse Subgroup members and wider key stakeholders to establish a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board by April 2021 to support delivery of the new Domestic Abuse Bill 2021.