In an important development in the provision of victim services in Essex, a leading domestic abuse charity in Essex has been awarded a three-year contract to provide specialist support to high-risk victims.
Safer Places is an independent Essex charity which already provides support and services to adults and children affected by domestic and sexual abuse.
The organisation has now successfully won the contract to run the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service in Essex.
Part-funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Essex, Essex County Council, Southend Borough Council and Thurrock Borough Council, the IDVA contract will see Safer Places provide 24 Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) in the county.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “The earlier effective intervention and support that the Independent Domestic Violence Advocates provide has the potential to reduce serious harm in our communities.”
The IDVAs will provide crucial support to victims of domestic violence who are at the highest risk of serious injury or murder by: creating safety plans and carrying out risk assessments; accompanying them to court; supporting them as they give evidence and write statements; and requesting special measures in court (such as screens) so they don’t have to face their abuser.
The workers will also help victims access refuge accommodation, increase security in their properties so they can live safely at home, provide emotional support and help get referrals to counselling or mental health services and liaise with social workers around child protection issues.
Victims can get access to the IDVAs via a referral from a professional, such as police, doctors, a hospital or refuge organisations and they are available 24-hours a day. They can also contact Safer places direct on their 24-hour emergency number 0845 0177 668.
Announcing Safer Places as the successful bidder, Nick Alston, who is also chair of the Domestic Abuse Strategy Board, said: “This is an important development.
“This service will now have more IDVAs working more hours across a greater area of Essex than ever before, providing crucial, and in some cases life-saving, support to victims of domestic abuse.
“The advocates provide a one-stop point of contact for victims to guide them through the daunting criminal justice system, help them get suitable and safe accommodation and crucially counselling and support to help them begin to repair the harm they have endured amongst many other things.
“This bidding process also shows that, by working closely with our local authority partners, we have effectively and successfully pooled our budgets to create a broader and more far-reaching support service to those most at need.”
Jan Dalrymple of Safer Places added: “We are delighted to have won this contract which will give us the opportunity to deliver a step change in the services provided to victims of domestic abuse across Essex.
“The increase in the number of IDVAs, and the fact that they will be based in every area across Essex and linked into other domestic abuse support services within those areas, means victims will have the support they need where they need it, when they need it.
“The scale of the service also means that we will be able to provide specialist services to better reach and meet the needs of groups who have been reluctant to come forward for help in the past. The way the service has been designed will mean that across the county more people living with the danger and misery of domestic abuse will have a better chance of getting the help they need to build a better future “
The contract goes lives on April 1 2015 and is worth £700,000 a year.
The successful bidder was chosen by a panel made up of representatives from the OPCC, Essex Police and local councils. Domestic abuse victims were also consulted for their views during the decision-making process.
The IDVA service in Essex was previously provided by Victim Support.
Nick Alston added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Victim Support – for all they have done and continue to do in supporting high risk victims of domestic abuse.”
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