As you may have seen, we’re about to embark on 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Abuse. We certainly need it. Figures show that violent crime against women is rising, with over 1 in 4 women having experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16.
Lloyds Bank Foundation has been supporting charities tackling domestic and sexual abuse and its impacts for over thirty years, funding small, specialist services in communities right across England and Wales. In fact, it’s one of our biggest areas of funding, with more than 80 charities which support those affected by domestic and sexual abuse currently in receipt of grants. These charities can be found in every corner of England and Wales, from West Cornwall Women’s Aid to Rape Crisis Tyneside & Northumberland and Safer Merthyr Tydfil. But even if we directed all the Foundation’s resources to small charities tackling domestic abuse, they will continue to be squeezed by increasing demands and ever diminishing resources. Meanwhile, Government and commissioners are failing to recognise the importance of specialist support provisions, not just for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse but to meet specific needs of people who may be older or from a BME background for example.
Whilst we continue to fund charities tackling disadvantage through Invest and Enable grants, domestic and sexual abuse has become a key priority area for the Foundation’s national work. Last year we announced our initial investments aimed at helping specialist services to be more successful when facing the current challenging commissioning climate. This is supplemented with real-time individual support from Imkaan, Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid through which 119 specialist local services have already received a personalised support service.
We know that effective help for the sector can’t only focus on propping up charities: we want to change the system. We’ve worked with the sector to tackle challenges with commissioning, developing a resource in Wales to help commissioners better understand how to meet needs effectively. We also led the development of a similar resource for commissioners in England which is soon to be published. We know this won’t change commissioning overnight, but we hope it is another tool to strengthen the sector. Backing from the Welsh Government shows just how valued the voluntary sector, and specialist services in particular, is in tackling domestic abuse.
To have real impact in tackling the extent of domestic and sexual abuse we can’t only patch up victims and support survivors, we have to stop abuse at its source. We’re investing £1m in Drive, a new approach to challenge high risk perpetrators of domestic abuse led by Respect, SafeLives and Social Finance which seeks to reduce harm now and in the future. It’s not going to be easy, but to reduce the number of victims we must first reduce the number of perpetrators.
These are just three projects supported by the Foundation. In a sector that has so many ideas of how to make a better world, we want to support the best ideas to influence change. Transform: Domestic and Sexual Abuse, our new one-off grants programme to help sector specialists inform and influence responses to domestic and sexual abuse, as well as strengthening the sector from within. We had an outstanding response to our initial call for applications – there were far more strong bids than we could ever support which is testament to the talent, knowledge and determination in the sector.
Set against the challenges presented by domestic and sexual abuse, we know that our funding through Invest, Enable and national programmes is but a small contribution, that’s why these 16 Days of Action are so important. No one organisation alone can tackle these problems and it is imperative that Government takes affirmative action to ensure specialist services can both survive and thrive.
Caroline Howe, Policy and National Programmes Manager
 Crime Survey for England and Wales