PFCC supports Safe Steps to help break the cycle of domestic abuse
Vital support for people in Southend looking to escape and recover from a life of domestic abuse has been expanded with a financial boost.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) has allocated £461,000 from funding received from the Ministry of Justice to Safe Steps to support women, men and children as they rebuild their lives after domestic abuse.
The charity provides support through its Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) for both adults and young people, raises awareness among young people at every Southend secondary school on healthy relationships with its Break the Cycle programme, has a dedicated child and family team, and hosts a refuge.
Since 2019, the charity has also operated the Compass helpline for the whole of Essex.
The single point of contact enables callers to access the support they need with just one phone call – the system is set up to share full details of each case with the relevant partner organisations, meaning those needing help need only recount their story once.
Working with Changing Pathways and Next Chapter – under the Ending Violence in Essex (EVIE) partnership – callers from across the county are provided with the support they need.
CEO Sarah Conlon said: “I am very proud of the system we have in place. It took a lot of time and a lot of work, but it has been worth it.”
People with complex needs, including homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues, are all helped, with an outreach team meaning the advisors will go to where people need them across Southend.
Of the on-going support from the PFCC, Sarah said: “The funding from the PFCC and Ministry of Justice means we have been able to put additional support in place. It has provided us with an extra six members of staff. It has really increased our ability to work without a waiting list, so people are getting support without having to wait. We have also been able to give more people vital IDVA training. It is absolutely huge.
“We have had funding from the PFCC in the past. They were incredibly supportive through the pandemic, in particular. We had an awful lot of support which enabled us to be able to recruit quickly when needed to provide a remote service. It gave us the opportunity to bring in temps from outside of the area who were qualified and capable and could get working quickly. We would not have been in that position without the PFCC’s support.
“In a time of crisis, they were there for us. I’m not sure where we would have been without the funding.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Domestic Abuse is the largest cause of harm in our county and accounts for 19 per cent of all recorded crime and 33 per cent of all violent crime. It is a devastating and abhorrent crime that destroys lives and causes significant harm to victims. Through the Southend, Essex, and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board we are committed to supporting the victims of domestic abuse and reducing the number of people who suffer from this awful crime. The work Safe Steps are doing really does make a difference and helps people rebuild their lives and be safe.”
Sophie* was supported by the Break the Cycle programme when she was stalked and abused on social media following a relationship break-up at the age of 17. She was supported to report the crime to Essex Police and looked at safety, support networks and what an unhealthy relationship looks like.
She said: “I am so grateful for Break the Cycle and everything they’ve done for me. It’s an amazing free service. This service picked me up when I was at my lowest and the work I’ve done will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
If you’re a survivor of abuse looking for community support in your area please visit Essex Compass.