Victims of domestic violence received a boost this week when the Big Lottery announced it is giving nearly £600,000 to help them.
Scottish Borders Council will use the £598,000 for a new five-year initiative – STEPS – to tackle the housing and emotional needs of those affected by domestic abuse and their families.
Violence against women coordinator, Safe Communities’ Andrea Beavon said: “In too many cases, the only way victims and their children can be safe is to leave the family home, their friends, families and pets, and this makes a really difficult time even more emotional and stressful. STEPS will work with landlords, victims, police and fire services to assess alternatives to victims moving home, and provide home security measures to enable them to stay safe in their own homes. We can only achieve this by working in partnership.”
The money will go to paying for specialist housing support, home security installations and emergency pet accommodation (to ensure that victims do not have to stay in abusive homes for fear of pets being harmed).
SBC and partner agencies – NHS Borders, Police Scotland, Fire Scotland, Borders Housing Network – developed the bid to Big Lottery by looking at the gaps in victims’ housing needs and the challenges they faced seeking support.
Andrea said the need for the STEPS project had been identified by speaking to service providers, victims and their children and that their feedback had been invaluable, playing a key role in the funding success.
The council says STEPS will help 200 families to remain in a home of their choice and provide 50 emergency pet accommodation places locally. A total of 30 homes will have fire safety measures installed by partner agency Fire Scotland, and a further 170 homes will have home security measures installed.
And officials expect the project will support an additional 500 victims and their families over its five year period.
The Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support (DAAS) helped over 500 victims last year, with many ending up having to find alternative accommodation, move away, or into refuge.
DAAS service manager Anna Smith, said: “The (Lottery) funding will increase the safety of individuals experiencing abuse; make perpetrators’ behaviour more visible, and increase inter-agency partnership working. It is a hugely welcome addition to the ongoing campaign to address domestic abuse in the Borders.”
Cash will also go to risk assessment, safety planning and crisis intervention for people having problems accessing mainstream services such as those with disabilities, living in rural isolation, from the ethnic minority groups or using drugs and alcohol to cope said SBC.