Updated: Monday, 10th December 2018 @ 4:16pm

'It shatters lives': More safe houses and 'stronger safety net' for Oldham domestic abuse victims with £70k grant

'It shatters lives': More safe houses and 'stronger safety net' for Oldham domestic abuse victims with £70k grant

| By Hannah Watte

Oldham domestic abuse victims will soon have more places to escape to for refuge, help and support thanks to a £70,000 government grant to tackle the lack of safe houses in the area.

The funding will help Oldham Council increase security at 25 properties in the borough, which provide safe temporary housing for victims and their children.

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Co-operatives, said tackling this ‘devastating’ crime is a top priority for the council.

She said: “Tackling domestic violence and abuse is a priority for the council and our partners.  It has a devastating effect on the victim but also impacts on the whole family.

"In Oldham we are doing as much as possible to protect victims and families and this funding will help.”

As well as increasing security as safe houses in the region, Oldham will be using the grant to provide therapeutic play sessions for children who have witnessed the abuse of one, or more, of their family members.

Ms Brownridge added: “Children and young people who witness it can be emotionally and psychologically scarred for life.

“Research has shown those who are exposed to violence can suffer low self-esteem, become low achievers and even go on to become offenders themselves.

"Through our work we will continue to help victims to either leave violent relationships, live more safely within relationships or support the prosecution of offenders.”

Oldham is one of 46 local authorities across the country to receive a grant – part of a wider £3.5million initiative to support victims of domestic abuse and their families.

The funding will mean 710 new bed spaces in a range of safe accommodation providing shelter to victims of domestic abuse across the country.

The new beds will provide an absolutely vital lifeline to victims as a study conducted by Communities Minister Baroness Williams and Home Office Minister Karen Bradley revealed thousands being turned away due to lack of space.

Almost a third of victims seeking refuge in a study, were denied the possibility of safe and secure accommodation due to lack of spaces in 2013/2014.

One week of last year, 369 women were turned away and on one day 112 women and 84 children could not get access to a safe house.

In the same year 37% of services in the study were being run without specific funding and 24% of these were being run by volunteers.

The survey also showed 13% of shelters had to be suspended or closed because of lack of funding.

Baroness Williams said: “Domestic abuse is an appalling crime that shatters lives and this government is determined to ensure that no victim is turned away from the support they need.

“This new funding will help Oldham Council and specialist charities provide a strong safety net for anyone facing the threat of abuse in their own home.”

Controlling and coercive behaviour will become a criminal behaviour liable for prosecution on December 29 this year.

Domestic abuse is not just physical violence – it can encompass threatening behaviour, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.

 It occurs between people who are or have been intimate partners or family members irrespective of gender, including forced marriage and same sex relationships.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone, however, most victims of domestic abuse are women and most perpetrators are men.

It is often manipulative and aggressive behaviour, used to exert power and control over people.

This appalling crime affects one in four women in their lifetime with two women killed as a result of domestic abuse every week in England.

Research suggests that victims will suffer 35 incidents of domestic abuse before they seek help and that they are more likely to report these to friends and family over police.

According to The Women’s Aid Annual Survey of domestic violence services across England, there has been an unprecedented surge in the number of domestic abuse cases.

More than 100,000 domestic abuse crimes were prosecuted in 2014/2015, an increase of more than 16,000 from the previous year and the highest ever number in Crown Prosecution records.

Over the last ten years, there has been a 131% increase in convictions, with domestic abuse cases accounting for 14.1% of all court prosecutions.

Greater Manchester Police recently launched their End The Fear campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse and to encourage victims to come forward.

The project sees high-impact posters and leaflets across Manchester as well as a social media campaign social, raising the profile of this often unspoken about problem. 

The police and Oldham Council strongly advise victims and families to approach them if they or anyone else is suffering due to domestic abuse.

Councillor Brownridge said: “If you are a victim, or you know of anyone who is suffering at the hands of an abusive partner, report them to us.”

For help and advice call Oldham on: 0161 636 7525 or visit www.endthefear.co.uk

Image courtesy of Concha García Hernández, via Wikipedia, with thanks.