VICTIMS of domestic and sexual abuse will receive greater access to support in Essex thanks to an investment of more than £800,000.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for Essex has secured a total of £832,863 to invest in independent domestic abuse advisors (IDVAs) and independent sexual abuse advisors (ISVAs).
The National ISVA and IDVA Fund and Critical Support Fund is being shared between Victim Support, domestic abuse charities Changing Pathways and Next Chapter, and the consortium of rape and sexual abuse specialist support services, Synergy Essex.
It is the second year the funding has been made available.
The funding will mean two additional caseworkers at Victim Support to work with standard and medium risk victims of domestic abuse, providing telephone and face to face support.
Justin Sarginson, area manager for Victim Support, said: “Victim Support welcomes the funding from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex.
“The funding has enabled us to recruit additional domestic abuse caseworkers who provide specialist support to victims and survivors across the county. The continued funding will allow us to continue the work we are doing and help to provide specialist support to even more victims of domestic abuse.”
At Changing Pathways, the money has been invested in five specialist domestic abuse advocates, including expanding the service to include an advisor for young people.
CEO Tracy Vallis said: “We, at Changing Pathways, are delighted to hear funding for our specialist domestic abuse work is to continue at enhanced levels. This funding will support us in retaining our much valued and highly skilled staff team and of course they, in turn, will be able to continue to support clients at high levels of risk from domestic abuse.
“We know from our data that demand sky-rocketed and the pandemic gave us unique challenges where clients wanted to leave an abusive situation knowing that movement and communication was restricted. With perpetrators at home, our team needed to be creative and flexible in ensuring contact was safe.
“Moving on and making progress through the courts was slow and with this additional funding we have been able to deliver the highest quality of care and support to all clients who came to us.
“Our team resilience was also enhanced by the funding as we navigated the pandemic. The PFCC has been instrumental in clearly identifying a change in need and supporting us to meet it.”
Rebekah Brant, Synergy Essex services delivery manager, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding as it ensures we have increased capacity for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) to continue in their dedicated role across Essex.
“The backlog of cases waiting to come to court, due to Covid-19 restrictions and increased reporting of sexual offences, has put extra demand on the existing ISVA service. We know that in Essex victims and survivors who have access to an ISVA are 20 per cent more likely to stay engaged with the criminal justice process.
“The funding contributes towards victims’ and survivors’ early engagement with specialist support and they can be supported throughout the criminal Justice journey.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “I am delighted we have secured this additional investment in our domestic abuse and sexual abuse support services. Improving support for victims and protecting the vulnerable is a key priority in my police and crime plan and an important part of reducing the harm victims experience.
“The vital role played by these advocates ensures that we improve the capacity of our specialist support services to help victims come forward, report issues and access the help they are entitled to.
“IDVAs and ISVAs are uniquely placed to act in the interests of the victim, supporting their journey through the often complex criminal justice system and in moving on with their lives.”