Violence Against Women & Girls
Following the conclusion of the Home Office funded project, Altogether Safer – Reducing VAWG in North Kent) in March 2020, the Committee were presented with a report that gave Members a brief overview of the impact of the different strands of the project during its lifetime. It was noted that the report only provided key highlights but a full Independent Evaluation Report of the Project would be shared with Members on request to the Community Safety Unit.
The Strategic Manager gave Members a detailed overview of the report and highlighted key points from the following sections within the report:
· The Police Station Based IDVA Service
· Engagement with domestic abuse support services across BAME communities
· Choose Respect Programme
· Overall Assessment, Value for Money and Future Work
· Next Steps
The Strategic Manager advised that page 102 held the overall assessment of the project, but she would share the independent valuation, which was submitted to the Home Office, with Members.
The Chair advised that the total of £248,464.00 awarded over 3 years to the Altogether Safer Project sounded like a large sum of money but when it was broken down it wasn’t a lot however preventative work was important and was a more cost effective option.
The Committee gave their thanks to the Strategic Manager for her hard work and stretching the limited funding available to her during the length of the project.
Several suggestions were put forward by the Committee:
· Some victims of domestic abuse may not be able to contact services, interact with shops or search for help via social media due to their domestic situation so more discreet paths should be investigated. One such path could be to work with local Pizza delivery stores which could place a sticker inside each pizza box listing a number for domestic abuse to call if they were in need. Another example would be attaching the number to letters that the Council sent out regularly such as reminders to pay rent etc
· Domestic abuse also affected men and one of the biggest killers of young men was suicide; a recent study revealed that men aged 16-24 were in risk of being subjected to controlling behaviour in the household. Cllr Meade intended to lobby the Home Office on projects to help young men in need
With regards to discreet methods of getting in contact with domestic abuse victims, the Chair advised that the contact number was attached to the side of the refuse lorries and help was always available at the Gr@nd but he agreed more could always be done.
The Strategic Manager welcomed the suggestions from the Committee and explained that the team were always looking for further ways to reach the wider community and provide support. Representatives of the Community Safety Unit attended the North Kent Domestic Abuse Forum and the CSU could look at different ways of publishing the support information from that forum to spread it more broadly. The Altogether Project was mainly focused on women and young girls but men and young boys were also often victims of domestic abuse and work would still be undertaken with partner agencies to help them.
In response to a question the Strategic Manager advised that the Altogether Safer project was meant for the whole community, not just the BAME residents, the advisor services and Choose Respect programme were available to everybody. The least costly part of the project was to support the BAME community and when the Council bid for the funding the criteria that was provided to the team by the Home Office required the team to look at preventative work, particularly with hard to reach and under-represented groups in those accessing services. Once the criteria was met by the services that were on offer the bid was successful and the team were keen to reach out to the immigrant communities that had previously little to no contact but the project as whole was for the benefit of everybody.
Members of the Committee made several suggestions about groups that needed further help and should be listed in the report:
· Young men and boys required further support as cases of domestic abuse often went unreported and they did not know how to seek help
· The elderly Asian population were at risk as culturally, most Asian parents moved in with their children when they become too old to remain living by themselves. As a result, many of the elderly population were subjected to problems due to the living situation with their extended family and they would not talk about any problems due to their culture or being too embarrassed
· During the lockdown, the Sikh community in Gravesham fed lots of the vulnerable residents from the Langa and around seventy percent of the residents that required the most support were from the white community. Many disturbing issues came to light over the course of the lockdown which the Sikh Community reported to the Council so that they could provide further assistance
The Strategic Manager was grateful for the suggestions and agreed they were points that would be taken back to the Domestic Abuse Forum and also taken into consideration when the Council reviewed its own Community Safety Strategy.. The Strategic Manager added that the elderly white population were another at risk group as there was an increase in elderly people who had been experiencing abuse for a significant number of years but never reported it as their generation were unaware os support available or very hesitant to speak up.
The Chair agreed that the community came together during lockdown and there were some hidden problems that came to light as result of the support that was given but they had all been referred to the correct departments in the Council. The Council managed to connect with a vast population of Gravesham during the pandemic which ended up helping people with problems not just related to Covid-19.
The Committee noted the information contained within the report.