More victims of crimes including domestic abuse, rape and other sexual offences will benefit from support designed to best meet their individual needs, the government has announced.
Up to £8.3 million will be provided to organisations across England and Wales to fund frontline and specialist support projects for victims and survivors over two years, including counselling, training and community outreach. This is part of the government’s commitment to quadruple funding for victim support services by 2025 compared to 2010.
Many of the organisations being funded are led, designed, and delivered by and for the communities they aim to serve, with organisations providing tailored support to victims such as those from ethnic minority backgrounds, disabled, LGBT and elderly victims. There is also funding for specialist organisations working with male victims specifically.
A £1.2 million training programme has also launched for Independent Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse Advisors who provide emotional and practical support to victims. The government is funding 1,000 of these posts and the training to make sure these vulnerable victims get better help and stay engaged with the criminal justice system.
Minister for Safeguarding at the Home Office, Sarah Dines said:
I have heard first-hand heart-breaking stories of trauma endured by survivors of abuse and I know how important bespoke support which meets victims’ individual needs and circumstances is.
We are proud that this funding will go to such a diverse range of organisations who really make a difference to the communities they serve.
Minister for Victims at the Ministry of Justice, Ed Argar said:
Victims and survivors have a range of different experiences and needs, so it’s vital we have a broad range of support services in place which can provide bespoke care.
By and for services are a vital part of the support available to victims and survivors of crime, and this additional government investment in these services will have a real impact.
In total, 55 organisations will benefit from the funding, enabling them to continue their vital work with victims of abuse.
Preston based Sahara will receive up to £250,000 in grant funding to provide a bilingual, comprehensive face-to-face support service for women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who are victims of domestic abuse.
This will include one-to-one counselling, training designed to build confidence and develop self-esteem, and self-help groups where they can meet other women and build support networks.
SignHealth, a deaf health charity which has been granted more than £1.7 million in funding, provides specialist support to deaf survivors of domestic abuse. The funding will help them to deliver accessible educational materials, encouraging them to know their rights and seek support.
The charity will also translate key materials, such as the landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021, into British Sign Language, and train experts in the deaf sector on issues relating to domestic abuse.
Many organisations have been able to bid as consortium groups, enabling charities with small footprints at the heart of diverse communities to access vital funding.
The Mankind UK consortium, made up of 5 organisations, have been awarded upwards of £500,000 to enable them to deliver specialist counselling for male victims of sexual violence. This aims to help survivors overcome the unique challenges faced by male victims and address and reduce symptoms of trauma and mental health issues.
There is also funding for organisations who tackle specific harms, such as so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse. The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire is working with Savera UK to increase reporting of what can sometimes be hidden crimes such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). This is in addition to enhancing the ability of front-line professionals to identify and support victims of these crimes.
Zafar Coupland, Manager of Sahara Women’s Centre said:
Sahara is very grateful to the Ministry of Justice and Home Office for agreeing fund our Project over the next 2 years. This will enable us to assist BME women who are the victims of domestic violence in all its forms. The grant will fund a comprehensive support service which will include, advocacy, counselling, confidence building and self-help groups and will be delivered with kindness, dedication and passion so that we make a difference to women whose lives have been blighted by abuse.
Marie Vickers, Head of Domestic Abuse Service at SignHealth said:
Our experience shows that it is essential that deaf survivors of domestic abuse receive local specialist support in their home area in addition to mainstream provision. It is vital that deaf BSL users have the option to communicate in their first language with specialist staff who have lived experience. We are grateful that the Home Office has awarded us this incredible opportunity to create greater impact for the deaf community.
Lucy Hughes, CEO at Mankind UK and 1in6.uk said:
Our sector previously came together to help male survivors online via www.1in6.uk. With this funding, we can take that collaboration further by offering male-centred counselling services across England and Wales and begin to address the geographical inequality in what is on offer for men.
Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs said:
My Office’s report ‘A Patchwork of Provision’ highlighted the significant gaps in provision of specialist ‘by and for’ domestic abuse services which support Black and minoritised, deaf and disabled, and LGBT+ survivors.
This fund will make some progress towards responding to these gaps and I look forward to working with the government on the Victims & Prisoners Bill to close this gap further.
This builds on government victim funding commitments set out in the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan, including over £10 million awarded under the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Fund, over £7 million awarded under the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Fund and the recent Flexible Fund delivering emergency support to victims of domestic abuse.
As part of the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan, the government has committed a total of over £230 million from 2022-2025, including the Ministry of Justice quadrupling funding for victim and witness support services by 2024/25.
The new funding is just one part of the extensive work across government to improve outcomes for victims of abuse.
Earlier this month, all 43 police forces across England and Wales, and all rape prosecutors across the country, began implementing a new approach to dealing with rape and other serious sexual offences, ensuring forces conduct thorough investigations which put the focus on the suspect and centre the rights and needs of victims.
Known as Operation Soteria and previously piloted in 19 police forces and 9 Crown Prosecution Areas, the programme brings together police forces with academics, using evidence and new insight to enable forces and prosecutors to transform their response to rape and serious sexual offences.