The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead has approved a new strategy for providing safe accommodation and associated support for victims of domestic abuse, following a successful public consultation.
The Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy 2021-24, which is a new legal requirement for councils, sets out how safe accommodation and support for victims and their children will be provided and further enhanced over the period.
Yesterday, Cabinet agreed the strategy, associated action plan and six priorities for investment and delivery, with an overarching priority to ensure victims and their families have access to safe, good quality accommodation that meets their needs.
These priorities are: access to safe accommodation, support to remain safely at home, perpetrator management, coordinated support, victim representation, and improved data collection across services.
To ensure the strategy meets local needs, the council undertook a public consultation on its draft strategy, produced with support and input from relevant partner organisations including the Dash Charity, the Domestic Abuse Forum, Thames Valley Police, and health and social care services.
Consultees confirmed that access to safe accommodation is the most important of the priorities, with refuge provision being the preferred accommodation option. Of the 41 respondents, 51% indicated they had been impacted by domestic abuse at some point in their lives.
Cllr Ross McWilliams, Cabinet member for housing, sport and leisure and community engagement, said: “Anyone can be affected by domestic abuse in its various forms, and access to good quality, safe accommodation, along with appropriate support, is critical to help victims escape their abuser and start to rebuild their lives.
“We already work closely with partners to provide safe accommodation and tailored support packages for victims and their children, and we want all victims across the borough to know that they are not alone and help is available through a compassionate, thorough and clear process.
“This new strategy complements the excellent joint working, initiatives and other important strategies we already have in place, by prioritising in line with local needs our investment and delivery to support those fleeing domestic abuse, along with an action plan backed with £241,000 from Government in 2022/23. We hope this strategy and actions within demonstrate our commitment on this issue and clearly say to all victims in the Royal Borough – ‘You are not alone’.”
Councillor Stuart Carroll, Cabinet member for adult social care, children’s services, health and mental health, added: “I would like to thank everyone who shared their views on this important document to ensure our investment and delivery is focussed on what people think is most needed locally to support victims and their children.
“Sadly, we’ve seen a national increase in domestic abuse during the pandemic and it’s clear the need to take a deeper, holistic approach to supporting victims is paramount, which includes access to safe accommodation as a crucial first step.
“We stand right behind any victim of domestic abuse and will always do what we can with our partners to ensure victims in our borough can escape and get full support. We will absolutely continue to prioritise victims and also further advance our awareness and education campaign including the critical imperative of prevention and ensuring everyone can spot the signs.”
This decision by Cabinet is subject to call-in by Scrutiny.