A specialist service operated by Scottish Borders Council’s Safer Communities team has exceeded one of its first year targets in the space of just nine months.
The Safe Housing Options service supports domestic abuse victims with housing issues in the Scottish Borders and has already reached its 100th referral since being established in April 2015.
It is recognised that secure, safe and long term housing choices are key to helping families recover from their experience, and the service works in partnership with homelessness services, registered social landlords, Border Women’s Aid, Children1st and the Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support service to secure a better range of safe options for victims of domestic abuse and their children.
In addition to the partners who make up the Safer Communities team, including the Council and Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue service are a key partner in the Safe Housing Options service, with every client offered a free home safety fire check.
The Big Lottery has provided five-year funding for the service, which enables the provision of a wide range of resources to help victims, from installation of safety measures to help with moving, legal advice and help with discussions with landlords.
Councillor Donald Moffat, SBC’s Executive Member for Community Safety, said: “Take up of the service has exceeded expectations and has enabled a range of tenants and private householders to access information, advice and practical resources to help them deal with the challenges of recovering from domestic abuse.
“The need for this service emerged from feedback from various services and domestic abuse victims, who detailed the struggle to find safe, stable housing and deal with all the barriers to leaving abusive relationships.
“Importantly the service gives victims a range of options as to where they want to live, something that is often denied them while they are suffering abuse.”
Councillor Moffat added: “While it is pleasing to see that this service is fulfilling a need locally, it is a continued concern that domestic abuse is affecting so many people in the Scottish Borders.
“We are fortunate that locally we have a wide range of services in place to assist and I would encourage anyone who is suffering domestic abuse to get in touch with any one of these services and access the help and support that is available.”
Registered social landlords operating in the Scottish Borders are a key partner in the Safe Housing Options service.
Jean Gray, Operations Director of Berwickshire Housing Association, said: “Safe Housing Options really emphasises the strength of partnership working in the Scottish Borders, with our aim being to ensure that domestic abuse victims gain greater personal safety, considerable confidence and wellbeing for themselves and their children.
“This way of working has developed positive relationships on the ground in our communities and has benefited clients and ensures they can remain within their own home, or find a new home, and feel safe and secure.”
Victims of domestic abuse can find out about the support available and contact details from www.scotborders.gov.uk/domesticabuse or by calling Safer Communities on 01835 823204.