Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is to re-tender its domestic abuse services contract, with the authority looking to improve the services it provides for local Southend-on-Sea residents and invest a further £20,000 in this area.
This will see the development of new prevention and awareness programmes and provide tailored emergency and crisis help to local people on an individual basis. These tailored services will mean the current 22 bed refuge would not be necessary and allow money that is currently being spent supporting victims from other areas to pay for these new local services.
At the current time the refuge is rarely used by local Southend-on-Sea residents, but is paid for by the council, taking up over 90% of our domestic abuse services budget. Over the last 16 months, only 8% of spaces in the refuge have been taken up by residents of Southend-on-Se and the council is therefore working with other authorities to ensure that non Southend residents continue to receive the appropriate support they need.
Cllr Lesley Salter, Executive Councillor for Adult Social Care, says: “I am very pleased that we have identified extra money for this vital area of work, and we will be improving our service by providing tailored crisis bed support for local individuals, raising awareness and developing prevention programmes that can help stop domestic abuse happening in the first place. This change will also means that we can create new support services that we do not currently have with better services for male victims, older victims, working victims and women under 35 for example.
“Our new services will ultimately mean that our 22 bed refuge, which is currently accommodating over nine out of ten victims from outside of Southend-on-Sea, will no longer be necessary. Along with providing these much needed improved services, it will also ensure that local taxpayers money is being spent helping people from Southend-on-Sea, which is only right.
“We are one of the only areas to still have a centralised refuge facility, and as a consequence other local areas that have long since closed theirs are placing their residents in our facility and the council is paying for that. At the current time we have only one resident from Southend-on-Sea in the refuge. Unfortunately we can no longer continue this way of working, particularly when we have identified that we can make major improvements to our service in other ways.
“These changes will not happen overnight and we will put processes in place to ensure that any victims currently in the centre that want to remain locally will be able to do so. However I am clear that local funding for this vital area is being spent supporting victims of domestic abuse in Southend-on-Sea and helping to prevent it happening in the first place, and I am delighted that we will actually be increasing the budget for this area of work.”