22 July 2015

New domestic violence & abuse, rape, sexual violence & abuse service unveiled

Specialist interventions to help victims and survivors achieve safety, and longer term support to help promote their recovery, are at the centre of a new domestic violence & abuse, rape, sexual violence & abuse service across Brighton & Hove and East Sussex that’s worth £1.1 million.

This follows the conclusion of a competitive tendering process by Brighton & Hove City Council, which saw the contact being awarded to a partnership led by local domestic abuse charity RISE, along with the organisations CRI and Survivors’ Network. Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has provided £300,000 over three years for the service.

The new service will commence on 1st October 2015.  The focus has been to redesign local provision to make sure people receive the best help, in the right way, when they need it, while also ensuring the most effective use of resources.  By bringing together services for victims and survivors of domestic violence & abuse, as well as rape, sexual violence and abuse, the hope it that it will be possible to support more people, with a key offer as part of the new service being a single point of access to make it easier to access help and support.

Some of the other key features include a continued commitment to women only provision, reflecting the importance of support which can be provided in safe, separate women only spaces, while making sure that victims and survivors from Black Minority Ethnic communities, as well as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* people and heterosexual men, have access to tailored support.

Within Brighton & Hove, the new service will also provide longer term interventions to support prevention and recovery for victim and survivors, as well as housing related support such as refuge. Within East Sussex, further targeted or specialist services are commissioned by East Sussex County Council, including a family service and housing support services, but are not included in this new contract.

Brighton & Hove City Council is the lead commissioner for the new service and has led the procurement process. This is first time that specialist domestic violence & abuse and rape, sexual violence & abuse services have been procured in this way, with commissioners coming together to pool their resources and, for the first time, doing this across both Brighton & Hove and East Sussex. The other associate commissioners include East Sussex County Council, the Office of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company and the Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group.

The new service is outcomes focused and will bring creative approaches to service provision and new ways of working that build on existing good practice. The new service will put service users at its heart, with outcomes including increasing the safety of victim and survivors and their families, contributing to efforts to hold those who use violence & abuse to account, as well as working to achieve a wider reach into local communities so that everyone knows that violence & abuse are not acceptable and people are able to have safe and violence free. 

Cllr Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “Cllr Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “Domestic and sexual violence, as well as other forms of Violence against Women and Girls, can blight victim’s lives, and the lives of those around them. We are committed to maintaining our focus on these issues, because of the impact on those directly affected, on our communities and our services. The key message is that violence, abuse and exploitation are never acceptable under any circumstances. This new service will ensure that we have the right provision locally, built on existing local expertise, and that people know that they are not alone, that help and support are available and that we want to back them in coming forward”.

Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council said: “The scale and the impact of domestic violence & abuse and rape, sexual violence & abuse are truly shocking. There are issues that need the co-ordinated efforts of police, local authorities, health and the voluntary sector if we want to tackle them effectively. This new service will help us achieve that, by offering help and support as soon as possible”.

Gail Gray, Chief Executive of RISE, which is the leading the partnership said: “We are exceptionally pleased to have won the contract. As three organisations who have proven track records and experience of developing and delivering services for survivors of abuse and violence winning this endorses us as the lead specialist providers.  It also provides us with a more sustainable income base for the next three years. Consistency of provision can only be good news for our service users and staff.” 

Dr Tom Scanlon, Director of Public Health for Brighton & Hove City Council said: “The partnership between RISE, CRI and Survivors’ Network brings together established voluntary sector services that have a long track record of working in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex. The new service will form a key part of our work to respond to this public health concern”.

Keith Hinkley, Director of Adult Social Care and Health for East Sussex County Council, said: “East Sussex County Council is committed to taking coordinated action to deal with domestic violence & abuse and rape, sexual violence & abuse. The opportunity to work jointly with Brighton & Hove City Council and other commissioners will enable us to better meet the needs of victim/survivors and their families in the context of increasing demand”.

Commenting on the joint contract, Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), Katy Bourne said: “This new co-commissioning arrangement puts the needs of victims at the heart of both statutory and specialist voluntary support services in Sussex.

“As PCC I now have responsibility for commissioning local victims’ services which is why my office has been heavily involved in the contract evaluation process for this service. I have also provided significant financial support to the project - worth £300,000 over three years – because I firmly believe that this is the right direction for commissioning these types of services.

“The contract between both councils and the partnership led by RISE demonstrates how working together can strengthen the capacity of local services so that they can respond more effectively to meet the needs of victims.”

Kamini Sanghani, Director of Partnerships for Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC, said:

“Like our partners, we are committed to tackling the many issues around domestic and sexual violence. We welcome this co-ordinated approach to improve the support for people who are some of the most vulnerable in our society. “

Real story

Jenny (name has been changed to protect her identity) was 28 and pregnant when she escaped from an abusive relationship. 

“I have to tell you that experiencing domestic violence first hand was a huge shock to me. I have never witnessed it before, other than seeing it on film. Moreover, I naively believed that it could not happen to me. Insecurity, tiredness and other circumstances, at the time, made a perfect combination of factors that made it so easy to enter the relationship that was very dysfunctional. Before I knew it, I have experienced physical violence that horrifies me now that I think about it.

“Finding out that I was pregnant was wonderful and terrifying at the same time and I also secretly hoped that it would make the violence stop.  Later I found out, that it is actually more often for the level of violence to increase in pregnancy. “

Jenny partner was violent again so she decided she had to escape.  She went to see her doctor and took her passport, all the money she had, keys and a few bits of clothing.   She never returned home.

“From then on, everything that happened was a very difficult and amazing process at the same time.  RISE was contacted by my doctor first, and then by the housing officer.  I was offered a place in the RISE Brighton & Hove Refuge.  I remember that when I arrived I cried so much, thinking how I will have a nice, quiet, peaceful place to sleep in, without any fear or abuse.

“It was not easy, but it was the best thing I have done in my entire life. It set me free, it gave me the confidence that I lost, without realising it.”

Jenny was supported to resettle in the community.

“I have a beautiful son. He is such a joy; he brings a lot of happiness to my life every day. I am very happy and satisfied with the way I am living my life. I am now in university studying to make a better life for us.  A year and a half ago my life was completely different and I did not see any future.  I lived day by day, in fear. Now, both my son and I can have a beautiful and happy life. It will be life full of challenges and layered with happiness as well as difficulties, but I am very much looking forward to it, as I feel I am adequately equipped to face it all.”