Emergency fund launched to support children at risk of domestic abuse during lockdown

Kim McGuinnessKim McGuinness
Kim McGuinness
A new emergency fund has been launched by Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to support children at risk of domestic abuse.

Across the region, charities and support groups have urged people to get in touch if they’re experiencing domestic abuse while isolating with their family during the coronavirus lockdown.

However, police chiefs are concerned about children who might not be able to access support while schools are closed down.

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PCC Kim McGuinness is now providing specialist funding to help groups adapt to new ways of reaching people at risk – with new grants available to help reach children through emails and social media.

Around £120,000 is being set aside for the fund following a successful bid from the Home Office Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Fund.

The cash is available for charities, voluntary and community groups and social enterprises and aims to support children and young people either as direct victims or those living in a household where domestic abuse is prevalent.

PCC Kim McGuinness said: “Our message to people at risk of domestic abuse is clear; we are there for you even in these difficult times.

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“Despite this we have also seen how charities, community groups and victims services are being hit hard with little or no additional support.

“I recently announced a Coronavirus Response Fund to help groups adapt, but I know many in the voluntary sector remain worried about how they can continue to support people and help keep us all safe during this unprecedented national emergency.

“We know also that right now across our region will be people who feel trapped, locked in with their abuser, and whose children suffer as a result.

“So I’m encouraging organisations to come forward and bid to this fund so we can continue to work together to help those in need.

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“It is vitally important, now more than ever, that those at risk continue to get the care they need, and to know we are there for them.”

Many children’s domestic abuse services are thought to be experiencing more difficulty than adult services when providing telephone or online support, especially regarding younger children.

Police bosses say support is normally delivered in schools for some services where it is a safe space for the child and this cannot be offered anymore.

Services are now moving to digital tools, including texts and Skype, although there are some services still doing face to face visits on high risk cases.

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Applications for the new ‘Children Affected by Domestic Abuse Response Fund’ must be submitted by 5pm on Friday, May 22.

The focus will be on early intervention, new ways to deliver support and provide access to services within social distancing guidelines and meeting ‘new needs’ from the coronavirus crisis.

According to PCC guidance documents, bids could include, but are not limited to:

:: Additional equipment such as ICT, mobile phones/laptops to enable home working and a first response crisis support for young people and children.

:: Setting up a local hub or community provision.

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:: Staffing costs/ additional hours due to staff who are ill or self-isolating.

:: Support for social media campaigns

:: PPE supplies to allow support staff to carry out face to face work with any children who are still attending schools and affected by domestic abuse.

:: Supporting refuge provision where children are in a refuge with their parent – such as additional play equipment, basic essentials or ICT equipment to keep in touch with support workers.

More information on the fund and how to apply can be found here: www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk/police-crime-plan/commissioning-services-grants/

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If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can report an incident by ringing 101 or visiting www.northumbria.pnn.police.uk. Also in a non-emergency situation you can text the police on 07786 200814.

In an emergency, always call 999. If you dial 999 and are unable to speak, the emergency operator will ask you to dial 55 and to follow their instruction to quickly put you in touch with police.

Help is also available from Victims First Northumbria by visiting https://victimsfirstnorthumbria.org.uk/ or calling 0800 011 3116

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