Support service for domestic abuse survivors launched in Southampton

A new support service for women and children fleeing domestic abuse has been launched in Southampton.

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Domestic Abuse Support+ (DAS+) has been set up by specialist supported housing provider Stonewater, backed by over £90,000 government funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Stonewater is working in partnership with Southampton’s Integrated Commissioning Unit (Southampton City Council and NHS Southampton Clinical Commissioning Group), homelessness charity the Society of St James and social enterprise OutcomeHome to deliver the service.

DAS+ will provide vital support for women and children experiencing or at risk of domestic violence or abuse, reaching out particularly to some of the most marginalised and hardest to reach people across the city.

This will include individuals and families who are homeless, struggling to find or keep refuge accommodation due to mental health issues or substance misuse and those in complex situations linked to safeguarding concerns.

The new service will offer a lifeline to people experiencing domestic abuse and comes at a time when coronavirus restrictions have led to many being trapped at home with their abusers, isolated from potential support when they need it most.

The MHCLG funding has been used to recruit three specialist coaches to support customers and as a result of a legacy donation to Stonewater, the service has also been able to fund a clinical psychologist, who will strengthen the service by enhancing the skills of support staff.

Denise Burtenshaw-Phillips, Customer Experience Manager (Supported Housing) at Stonewater, said: “We’re incredibly proud to be launching this new service to support more people seeking to escape domestic abuse.

“In Southampton 3,000 domestic violence crimes were reported in 2017/18, with the number of cases considered ‘high risk’ increasing significantly across the city.

“While more must be done to tackle the root causes of domestic abuse and stimulate long-term solutions, these statistics show there is a huge need for more specialist support provision – now more than ever, as the coronavirus crisis increases the risk of isolation.”

Sandra Jerrim, Senior Commissioning Manager at the Integrated Commissioning Unit, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work in a targeted way with some of the most marginalised women who experience domestic violence. Through this work we will ensure they receive the most appropriate support and help to access local services.”

Nicky Wilsenham, Operations Director at the Society of St James, said: “We are pleased to be working alongside Stonewater to support Southampton’s most vulnerable women.

“Our services have seen a significant increase in women who experience domestic violence amongst other complex needs. This opportunity allows us to support staff to work in a trauma-informed way, which in turn will enable the beneficiaries to receive the best support from this much-needed provision.”