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Exeter wins vital funding to support victims of domestic abuse

Published: 28 July 2021

Exeter wins vital funding to support victims of domestic abuse Supporting victims of domestic abuse

Exeter has won vital government funding to deliver emergency bedspaces for female rough sleepers and women who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse.

The City Council, working in partnership with CoLab Exeter, has secured £266,803 from the government’s Respite Rooms Pilot project.

The money will fund safe accommodation for single women who are fleeing domestic abuse relationships.

The emergency accommodation will be available for up to six weeks at a time to all single women who are homeless in the city, including women with no local connection and women who cannot access public funds.

The Council and CoLab Exeter will support women to access wider services and return home if safe to do so, or identify and access more long-term accommodation options.

Women with children will be supported to access other forms of emergency accommodation and men who have been made made homeless as a result of domestic violence will also be able to access support from the Council.

Cllr Ruth Williams Lead Councillor for Supporting People, said: “We are delighted that Exeter City Council has been chosen as one of the successful local authorities to deliver on this important project. 

“Our proposal will see the use of nine emergency units for vulnerable females who are sleeping rough or homeless as a result of domestic abuse. 

“It provides vital emergency accommodation as we help women to return to their homes or to be supported to move-on to more sustainable accommodation options.”

Amanda Kilroy, of CoLab Exeter, said: “This funding could not have come at a more important time for women in the city.  The need for secure accommodation and longer term support to help people find and sustain a home is acute. 

“We are looking forward to working with women to co-design and test what this support pathway needs to include and offer; and to strengthening collaborative working arrangements with colleagues in Exeter, who bring expertise and additional resources to help make the most of this opportunity,” she added.

On a national level, The Respite Rooms Trial Programme sees 12 local areas across England share £3.7 million to fund accommodation and expert support for victims of violence and abuse.

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes MP said: “Survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence or physical violence need a safe place of refuge to escape these crimes and rebuild their lives.

“These respite rooms will provide a safe space and ensure vulnerable people at risk of sleeping rough are supported in safe housing with expert advice and counselling.”

During the pandemic in Exeter, services have responded proactively to women’s needs and adapted new and existing resources to address help those women in need. However the Council is still seeing the numbers of vulnerable women in crisis rising. 

The main gap in resources has been the lack of specialist emergency and move-on accommodation, which has compounded the situation, and increasing levels of complexity and vulnerability. 

Respite Rooms will offer an opportunity to address the lack of emergency accommodation for vulnerable female rough sleepers and those women who are fleeing domestic abuse relationships. 

This local initiative is a collaboration between Exeter City Council and Exeter CoLab. CoLab Exeter launched in 2016 and its hub provides a range of agencies (health, mental health, housing, probation, community support) working to help people with complex lives, including a specialist GP supporting Homeless People.  Partner agencies have a presence in the building, and are supported to work collaboratively.

The project will be led by Resilient Women at CoLab (RWaC), a specialist women’s support programme which has coordinated the offer to women over the last four years.

Other partners involved in the project involved in keeping women safe, accommodated and supported. include Devon County Council, National Probation Service, Keychange, Holywell Housing Trust, Devon Rape Crisis, Splitz, Together Devon, St Petrocks, Real Life Psychology, Julian House and BCHA

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