Better support for Sheffield victims of domestic violence

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall
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Women who are unemployed, have disabilities or are from mixed ethnic backgrounds are most at risk of domestic violence in Sheffield.

The council is launching a new Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy for the city which aims to provide a “seamless” service for victims.

At the moment, victims are put into high, medium or standard risk categories and move between the services but the council now wants one contract to cover everything.

A report to the council’s Cabinet next week says: “An issue raised by users was that they felt that the transition between existing services could be difficult for them They said they want to build a trusting relationship with the person supporting them and not have to move between services unnecessarily.

“It is proposed that we will re-commission our community support services to provide as seamless a service as possible to promote recovery.”

The report says a higher proportion of women from a mixed and multiple ethnic group are likely to experience abuse.

It adds: “The number of women who are likely to experience domestic abuse increases for those women who are unemployed and also doubles for women with a long standing illness or disability.

“Around 24 percent have a disability, 63 percent are not working and between 18 percent and 24 percent report a mental illness.

“There are ‘hidden victims’ in Sheffield and identifying and responding to the needs of such victims is a challenge for agencies and people do not therefore get the support they need.”

The council and its partners currently spend about £2 million a year on responding to domestic and sexual abuse but the cost to the city’s public services is estimated to be many millions per year.

Officers add: “The impact can vary depending on other issues a person may face. And the experience of abuse can bring about other problems – some victims (and perpetrators) experience severe and multiple disadvantages and therefore have complex needs.

“Sheffield has protected, maintained and extended domestic and sexual abuse services since 2014 and while our focus must move towards prevention, the demand for support services is still rising.

“These services are vital, and make a real difference to the lives of many people in Sheffield, that is why, despite the current and future cuts to the budget, our aim is to do all we can to maintain and protect investment to this important area of work.”