Agenda item

Step Change Project (Presentation followed by question and answer session)


The Committee received a presentation from Jackie Hyland, a representative of Choices which specialise in Domestic Abuse Services, informing them of the work of the project that supports victims of domestic abuse with complex needs and their children (please see supplementary). 


Following the detailed presentation, Jackie Hyland fielded questions and comments from the Committee Members:


·         Some victims of domestic abuse do not come forward as they think they will be judged negatively and others do not understand what is being offered or simply do not want to engage in any way

·         Choices works in a multi-agency approach, signposting the services at schools and other agencies so that parents with struggling children and victims are more informed of the help that is available to people in their situations

·         The refuge accommodation located in Gravesham and Dartford is designed for young women aged 18-25 who have been victims of domestic abuse; the accommodation is also suited to house their children if they have any 

·         Most often, schools or Early Help will refer domestic abuse victims to Choices as they do not want the help of social services. For a victim to receive help they must give their consent so if they refuse assistance from Early Help then they will refer them to Choices 

·         Young parents with children that are struggling are also helped by Choices as many children suffer from abusive relationships between their parents; in many examples the local schools have recognised arising issues and have contacted Choice’s so that assistance can be offered to the families 

·         There is no time limit on the help given as the work is carried out in the long term; the only factor that plays into length of assistance given is the amount of funding that Choices receives every year

·         Choices local accommodation  can provide for a total of seventeen people including children.


The Chair asked Jackie Hyland what she thought the Committee and the Council as a whole could do to improve upon and aid the services offered by Choices.


In response, Jackie Hyland advised that:


·         Finding funding was a constant issue as new funding had to be acquired every year; making the project sustainable without the need to monitor funding every year would greatly benefit the service as it could carry out its work without fear of the accommodation centres having to close

·         Increased promotion of the services Choices offer through Council channels and further the understanding of the projects that are at work currently in Gravesham


Following a question regarding the funding of the project, the Strategic Manager (CSU) explained that:


·         The project receives no funding from KCC; it is solely funded by a grant from the  Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government at a cost of circa £68,000 per annum

·         That sum covers the cost of a breadth of provision including staff pay, accommodation, phones, travel, DBS checks, training, materials and a slew of other running costs

·         The project makes financial sense as the overall cost is vastly cheaper directing people to Choices rather than putting victims into the care of social services; Choices has cared for over 40 families at the cost of £68K whereas the cost of one child going into care is over twice that figure


The Chair thanked Jackie Hyland for the very informative presentation.


Supporting documents: