Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has welcomed new funding to give victims of domestic abuse fresh support to escape their abusers.
The Home Office’s ‘Flee Fund’ enables survivors of domestic abuse aged 16 or over who do not have the financial means to flee from the relationship to apply for a one-off payment of up to £500 from one of more than 470 support services.
The grants are part of a new £2m support package designed to provide one-off payments to victims of abuse to help them seek safety. They can be used for essential items such as groceries, nappies, transport or support with new accommodation.
Victims will also be able to apply for a further one-off payment of up to £2,500 to help secure a sustainable independent future and reduce their risk of homelessness or returning to an abusive partner. This ‘Future Fund’ grant can be used for putting down a deposit for rental accommodation and is aimed at preventing homelessness and alleviating some of the financial pressured faced by survivors when considering their futures.
Both funding streams, available from January 31st until March 2024, are being distributed by Women’s Aid via a network of local frontline services across England and Wales including organisations and caseworkers who have a specialist understanding of domestic abuse will be responsible for overseeing referrals to the fund.
It comes as the NatWest Group teamed up with charity SafeLives to launch a separate initiative - The Circle Fund – a funding programme open to frontline specialist services supporting victims of economic and domestic abuse. The scheme will provide crisis intervention, increase safety and help support the recovery and resilience of survivors.
County Durham and Darlington PCC Joy Allen has prioritised tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence in her Police and Crime Plan, vowing to work with the Chief Constable and partners to deliver high-quality support for all victims.
Commissioner Allen said: “I warmly welcome these new funding schemes which will make the process of seeking safety and sanctuary for survivors of domestic abuse and their families much easier.
“Many barriers can stand in the way of a victim leaving an abusive relationship including economic constraints. Many survivors flee with little else than the clothes they are wearing. The availability of emergency funding to cover the basics will give them the initial financial support they need to make a fresh start.
“We are working hard to protect victims of domestic abuse and their families and deliver the high-quality support they need to recover from these dreadful experiences. If you are suffering domestic abuse or sexual violence, there are a wealth of local services that can support you. Please reach out and don’t suffer in silence – help is available.”
The funding will initially be in place until March 2025 and builds on a pilot delivered alongside Women’s Aid last year which helped more than 600 victims to safety. During the pilot, 83.4 per cent of those applying for emergency funding said the payments would be used to flee an abuser.
Survivors will be eligible for the Flee Fund if they have experienced one or more of the following in the past 12 months: financial barrier to leaving shared home with perpetrator, financial barrier to separating from a perpetrator, financial barrier to caring for their children or caring for family members, unable to access benefits or waiting for benefits after fleeing abuse and no access to benefits due to immigration status.
To be eligible for the Future Fund, survivors must have experienced one of more of the following in the past 36 months: financial barrier to future planning to securing independence/stability while accessing a domestic abuse service, financial barrier to caring for children or other family members, unable to access benefits or waiting for benefits whilst moving on and no access to benefits because of immigration status.
Payments will be limited to one per survivor, per fund.
If you are a survivor and need financial help to escape an abusive relationship, you can be referred to the fund via a specialist domestic abuse support worker from a member organisation. All survivors who are based in England and Wales and who are receiving support from a local Women’s Aid delivery partner are eligible.
For more information visit: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/get-involved/flexible-fund/
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