More than 130 people have been supported through the city’s first-ever drop in Domestic Abuse Surgery in 12 months.
The Domestic Abuse Surgery is run by Sussex Police and RISE, the Brighton & Hove domestic abuse charity, and supported by Brighton & Hove City Council.
The Surgery is available at the Customer Centre at Hove Town Hall, every Wednesday morning between 9am and 12 noon.
Through the Surgery, which adds to the ongoing talk to us campaign by Sussex Police, women and men of all ages are able to access expert information and advice from Sussex Police staff and RISE volunteers.
The Surgery offers people a safe space to talk through their concerns, a chance to find out more about the options available to them as well as access to assistance with their housing options and finances.
This service has strengthened the support in the city to end Violence Against Women and Girls.
In 2014/15 the council sustained existing levels of funding for specialist service with the budget standing at £750,000. In this year, working with the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner, the authority has been able to provide additional resources to victims of domestic and sexual violence in response to increasing demand, totalling just under £100,000.
The council is also leading a joint commission with East Sussex and associate partners from the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner, Kent Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company and Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group. The total contract is expected to be in the region of £1.1 million per year.
The aim is to bring together a range of existing services, creating simplified care pathways and reduce duplication. This is to better meet the risk posed to, and needs of, victim/survivors and their families in the context of increasing demand.
The council are also working to develop services for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, to improve access to support for victim/survivors who have experienced, and those at risk, of violence and abuse, including Female Genital Mutilation. This project totals £59,000 and involves associate commissioners include East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County Council, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner and Sussex Police.
As part of the 16 days of Action, RISE & Impact Initiatives held sessions with young people around the White Ribbon Campaign supported by funding from Brighton & Hove City Council. This reached 80 young people in sessions supported by Young People’s Outreach Workers within Rise in partnership with the young people’s organisations involved. Young people made statements and pledges about abuse, relationships, and consent and each group created a ‘White Ribbon’ display.
Cllr Ruth Buckley, who is Brighton & Hove City Council’s Violence Against Women and Girls lead, said: “Violence Against Women and Girls destroys lives and is unacceptable. We have worked with our key city partners to end it.
“Our key priorities are to prevent it and ensure earlier intervention through immediate and ongoing support. We know that this makes all the difference and our new Domestic Abuse Surgery is proving that.
“We are also committed to providing protection for those that are suffering violence but also we are determined to work with survivors to prosecute offenders where possible.”
RISE chief executive officer Gail Gray, added: “The Domestic Abuse Surgery has proved to be a vital and much-needed resource for survivors in our city. It’s an additional, community access point, and effective partnership working with Sussex Police.”
Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp from Sussex Police, concluded: “Every day of the year, voluntary and statutory organisations work in our city to encourage people to access support and advice as early as possible and before abuse escalates. The surgery is another way that people can talk to us and our partners at RISE. It is an additional service being offered and is open to everyone in the city.”
Ayla (not her real name) attended the Domestic Abuse Surgery with the youngest of her children. She is not a British National and was concerned that if she left her husband he would carry out his threat to have her deported and permanently separated from her young children.
The RISE IDVA explained the client’s options, that the threats could not be carried out and that she had rights to remain in the country. The woman was able to identify that returning to the home address would be unsafe, that she and her children had suffered enough so the RISE IDVA worked with Brighton & Hove Council Housing Department to ensure the client did not return to the family address. Arrangements were made to collect her older children from school safely and travel to accommodation in East Sussex where the client chose a refuge outside of Sussex. Below is a message from the client to an advice worker at the Domestic Abuse Surgery.
“Thanks Rebecca (advice worker with name changed). We’re now happy in this place. I’ll never forget you and the day you helped me. My 9-year-old son said ‘it felt like we were trapped in a cage for a very long time and now someone has opened it with a key and now we’re free and can breathe properly’. I meant every word I said.
“I’ll be grateful to you for the rest of our lives. We may not see each other again I know, but always remember you have touched our lives so much. One day I’m sure I will be telling my children the story of this journey and even if they haven’t met you personally, I’m sure they will realise how big a part you played in our lives. I admire how people like you at RISE spend time helping people in situations like ours.”