OVER £17 million has been awarded to programmes across England and Wales to support children affected by domestic abuse.
The Safeguarding Minister announced that the funding will develop early intervention strategies to prevent violence against women and girls on Wednesday, January 4.
More than £10 million has been allocated to organisations providing vital support to children who have survived domestic abuse, such as counselling and 1:1 support. These projects include Welsh Women’s Aid, The Children’s Society and SafeLives.
This will be rolled out through the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Fund. Originally set up in 2018, this fund has already supported thousands of children and families.
The Minister for Safeguarding, Sarah Dines, said: “The impact of domestic abuse is devastating, and it is especially heart-breaking that children are being affected by this horrific crime. This is why we have invested additional funding into vital services supporting children who have been impacted.
“We are also proud to invest further in projects which identify the most effective ways to intervene early and prevent these crimes from being committed in the first place, which will protect those most vulnerable to abuse.”
The Minister for Children and Families, Claire Coutinho, said: “Instead of a safe and stable family life, children who experience domestic abuse are growing up with pain and conflict at home as their norm. This investment will provide crucial support like 1:1 counselling and support work for those affected by domestic abuse.”
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 legally recognised children as victims of domestic abuse in their own right when they see, hear or experience the effects of domestic abuse and are related to either the perpetrator or victim.
This latest iteration of the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Fund will provide up to £10.3 million over three years. It will go to eight organisations, including over £2.5 million for Welsh Women’s Aid.
Welsh Women’s Aid Chief Executive, Sara Kirkpatrick, said: “Welsh Women’s Aid is delighted to have secured this vital funding via the Home Office Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Fund in partnership with 15 of our specialist member organisations across Wales. This much-needed funding will help us strengthen our capacity to work with and support children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse. Together, we will test a range of trauma-informed interventions and create a clear evidence base of what works.”
From the £17.8 million, up to £7.4 million will be invested over three years to programmes which prioritise early intervention and research into the most effective ways of preventing abuse.
This will work to establish how to prevent violence against women and girls, marking a commitment to the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy.
This includes projects ranging from improving awareness of VAWG through preventative work with young people to researching possible connections between the increased use of online sites and sexual exploitation. Projects include Changing Lives, which will use the funding to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation online, and Surrey PCC, which will develop a public campaign to increase younger people’s understanding of stereotyping, misogyny, sexism, and sexual offences to enable them to challenge violence against women and girls.
Laura McIntyre, Head of Women’s and Children’s Services at Changing Lives, said: “Changing Lives has been providing support to adult women who have been targeted, groomed or exposed to sexual abuse for over 15 years.
“During coronavirus (COVID-19), we developed a report called Net-reach, where we observed a worrying number of young women and girls (18-25 years old) advertising sexual services online, raising concerns about child sexual exploitation and ongoing vulnerability to abuse in adulthood.
“Thanks to the funding, this project will allow our specialist team to build relationships with women in a growing environment where we can offer support to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation. We understand that not all women are abused online, but organisationally we see increasing numbers of women accessing our services after being harmed online, traumatised, and feeling suicidal.”
The funding is part of the government’s commitment to tackle violence against women and girls.
In March last year, the Home Office published the cross-government Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan, which invests over £230 million in tackling these crimes. This includes over £140 million for supporting victims and over £81 million for tackling perpetrators. The plan aims to transform society’s response to prevent offending, support victims and pursue perpetrators, and strengthen the systems and processes needed to deliver these goals.
The Home Office also launched the ground-breaking, long-term behavioural change “Enough” campaign. The campaign aims to provide bystanders with a range of safe ways to intervene if they witness an incident of violence against women and girls, ranging from sexual harassment on the street, on public transport or at work, to unwanted touching, sharing intimate images of someone without their consent and coercive control in a relationship.