Funding aids services delivering support to survivors throughout pandemic

Reports of domestic violence have increased in North Devon.

Reports of domestic violence have increased in North Devon. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Victim support services in Avon and Somerset have benefitted from Covid-19 Extraordinary Ministry of Justice Funding to help further strengthen their response during the pandemic. 

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens virtually met with support services including Mankind, SARSAS, Kinergy and Opoka to discover the challenges the providers faced throughout the pandemic, how services have been adapted and the impact of backlogs in the criminal justice system. 

Alongside a number of other services, the four providers received funding from the PCC, who has helped them set-up and continue to offer remote support to victims including webchats, phone and zoom counselling, online group sessions and even online yoga and art classes. 

Mankind offers support to men suffering from domestic abuse and SARSAS provides support to people in Avon and Somerset who have experienced rape or any kind of sexual assault or abuse at any time in their lives. 

Opoka is a specialist service that supports Polish women and children who live in Avon and Somerset and who are victims of domestic abuse, and Kinergy is a counselling agency offering support for survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence. 

Ms Mountstevens said: “This year has been a scary and uncertain time for those who are in domestic abuse environments or relationships.

"It was incredibly inspiring to hear about the work that these services are doing to ensure victims and survivors of past and present crimes are being supported during the pandemic. 

“These providers have had to go above and beyond to adapt, and I know they are still delivering vitally important advocacy, emotional and psychological support to local people.  

“I want victims to know that services do not judge; they are there to listen to you and support you on your recovery journey, whatever form that might take. 

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“Please remember that household isolation instructions do not apply if you need to leave your house to escape domestic abuse. If you do not want to speak to the police, speak to someone.” 

Victims can access help whether they choose to report to the police or not, no matter how long ago the crime took place. 

For more information on local support services, log-on to www.thisisnotanexcuse.org/ 

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