Thirty-three charities that support victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Greater Manchester have been allocated a total of £860,850 to adapt their services to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The funding has been provided to these services via Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) after it submitted bids to government for the funding earlier on in the COVID-19 crisis.

Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, Bev Hughes, said: “This funding boost will help local charities across Greater Manchester to continue to provide emotional and practical support to our most vulnerable individuals, and we look forward to continuing to work with our voluntary and community sector throughout this pandemic and in the future.”

The funding follows national concern that the COVID-19 has led to an increase in these types of crime because victims have been spending much more time than usual in their homes with their abusers. The pandemic has also meant that trials at court have been delayed and services are supporting clients for longer.

In addition, victims have been unable to visit the charities and support networks who are usually available, but instead relying on remote ways of accessing support. Organisations that would normally identify signs of abuse, such as schools or GPs, have also not had the same level of contact with potential victims in recent months.

Charities have reported difficulties in maintaining their previous level of service because they have lost income from donations and regular giving. The funding, which is part of a national £22m package from the Ministry of Justice, will pay for measures including:

  • Employing additional staff to address the increases and changes in demand for services, these include support workers, counsellors and other specialist staff
  • Developing additional online training to deliver to staff and volunteers
  • Improved digital technology to adapt to remote working to ensure clients continue to be supported
  • Purchasing suitable PPE, signage and hygiene measures to safely adapt their service as the lockdown measures are lifted

Among the charities to benefit are Migdal Emunah and Fortalice.

Migdal Emunah has been granted £33,701 to:

  • Employ and train and a children’s independent sexual violence advisor
  • Introduce a new text and website support service to provide support remotely
  • Provide the equipment needed for its staff to work at home
  • Provide more staff time to address the increases in demand seen recently

Migdal Emunah chief executive Yehudis Goldsobel said: "Migdal Emunah is incredibly thankful for this generous financial contribution towards the important work we do within the Jewish community for victims of sexual violence. During these unprecedented times we have experienced a substantial increase in clients, both adults and children. This financial commitment will allow us to offer immediate the support of an independent sexual violence advisor for those in need."

Fortalice has been granted £18,897 to:

  • Employ an independent sexual violence adviser, to respond to the increases in demand
  • Strengthen the team of independent domestic abuse staff, who are responding to increases in demand
  • Introduce advice line and web chat services to provide support remotely

Fortalice chief executive Gill Smallwood said: “Fortalice is extremely grateful for the funding to help with the work we undertake with victims of domestic abuse. The funding will help us to provide a live webchat, which can be life saving for a victim. During Covid-19 we have seen a fundamental change in how victims are able to communicate with us. This funding will give them an opportunity to reach out silently, ensuring they are heard and kept safe when needed.”

Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes added: “Reports of domestic abuse have remained relatively static during lockdown, whilst most other crimes have fallen. We know that for some people the lockdown has meant being trapped at home with their abuser, potentially cut off from existing support networks and unable to turn to the places they normally might for help.

“Organisations tell us that victims and survivors are also experiencing heightened stress and anxiety due to delays in court trials and lockdown measures in place, so it is even more important that there is support at this time. 

“While this funding is of course welcome, it is not enough and will only cover six months when it’s clear that a longer-term approach is needed to deal with the evolving challenges of this pandemic. What we need is a much stronger, cross-Government response from ministers and I will continue to be that strong voice for victims on this issue.”

The full list of the Greater Manchester charities that the funding has been allocated to is:

  • Salford Women's Aid
  • Fortalice
  • TLC: Talk, Listen, Change
  • LGBT Foundation
  • Salford Foundation
  • Stockport Without Abuse
  • Independent Choices
  • Victim Support (Bury)
  • Victim Support (Rochdale)
  • Rochdale Connections Trust
  • Manchester Action on Street Health
  • City Hearts
  • Paws for Kids (Endeavour Domestic Abuse Service)
  • Beacon Bolton Counselling Service
  • Safety4Sisters
  • The Pankhurst Trust
  • Olive Pathway
  • SafeNet Domestic Abuse and Support Services
  • Dimobi Children Disability Trust
  • DIAS Domestic Violence Centre
  • Rochdale Women's Welfare Association
  • Survivors Manchester
  • NESTAC
  • Greater Manchester Rape Crisis
  • Migdal Emunah
  • Empathy North West
  • EndAbuse CIC
  • Hits Radio Cash4Kids
  • St Georges Day Centre (Bolton) Ltd
  • MhIST (Mental Health Independent Support Team)
  • Caribbean & African Health Network Greater Manchester CIC
  • The Children's Society
  • Positive Steps

Article Published: 06/07/2020 14:05 PM