Reclaim charity aiming to help all victims of domestic abuse
PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 July 2015
A North Somerset charity is aiming to tackle the 'under-reported' issue of domestic abuse in the district.
Reclaim, formerly the Women’s Project Centre, was originally set up in 1993 when it was intended to be a drop-in centre for women in the area but it now provides a counselling service for men and women to overcome domestic abuse.
There are about four counsellors serving in North Somerset, based in Portishead, Clevedon and Weston.
Wards Solicitors have very close links to the organisation with a number of its employees also members of the charity’s committee.
Amy Jones, who works for the legal firm and is a Reclaim committee member, said: “Through our job we come across a lot of victims of domestic abuse.
“A lot of Wards Solicitors are part of the Reclaim panel.
“Around 30 years ago there were no domestic abuse services in North Somerset.
“It was found there was a gap in the market for counselling so The Women’s Project made counselling its main service.
“We also give emergency grants so if women have fled and have nothing, we can supply them with Tesco vouchers of if they need to go to court we will give them a train ticket. We have also been known to put people up in hotels.”
Reclaim opened its services up to men in 2014 when it also received more than £161,000 in lottery funding for the next five years on the basis that eight people are counselled by the service each month.
Amy added: “All domestic abuse is under-reported but there has been a definite increase in male sufferers coming forward.
“There is this trend where you go towards the socially deprived areas but it is under-reported in middle class areas because people are embarrassed.”
The number of people helped has been steadily increasing with 127 referrals for the year March 2011 to March 2012 and 135 referrals for the year from March 2012 to March 2013. There are also currently about 40 people on the waiting list to be seen by a counsellor.
Counselling co-ordinator, Bev Hale, said: “We offer 10 sessions at no charge and cover the whole of North Somerset.
“My role is to pass out referrals to our team of counsellors who are all experienced in working in domestic abuse.
“I am really proud to be a part of the service and have individually helped some of the 1,000 people we have helped. These people are amazing to have survived to tell the tale and move on to the next part of the journey with strength, care and resilience.
“The people we help deserve every chance to succeed.”
Aside from the lottery funding, the service has an annual budget of between £12,000-£15,000, with fundraising efforts collecting about £3,000 and grants accounting for the remainder of the organisation’s funds.
Reported domestic violence figures in Avon and Somerset have been rising, with 10,612 recorded cases in 2007-2008 increasing to 18,653 in 2013-2014.
However the police see it as a positive sign that more people have the confidence to come forward and tell the force about the problems they have suffered.
For more information or to contact Reclaim, log on to www.reclaimfromabuse.org