Support for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence gets emergency funding boost


Charities and other organisations supporting victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence across Sussex will benefit from nearly £700,000 in emergency funding - the county’s portion of Ministry of Justice cash.

Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne confirmed the grants today. The money will be used to help meet additional costs that local charities have incurred during the pandemic and help them prepare and expand their services to cope with the expected influx in referrals as lockdown restrictions continue to loosen.

Sussex Police recorded 1,688 domestic abuse offences in March and 1,792 offences in May, a 6% increase already in people feeling able to come forward to report.

£444,406 of the total funding has been awarded to domestic abuse support services across the county who have been funded previously by PCC Katy Bourne.

Sussex Victim Support are just one organisation that has benefited after already experiencing an influx in referrals.

They’ve received a boost of over £30,000 to appoint and train new Victim Advocates and to help their current staff work remotely if needed with new technology.

Sussex Area Manager, Kay Birch said; “As lockdown eases, we are seeing increasing numbers of people seeking help and reporting abuse. We had a 13% increase in referrals in just one week in June with around 450 people identified as in need of support.

“Setting up new remote ways of delivering our services and meeting increased demand obviously comes at a cost.

“This funding will enable us to: increase staff and volunteer hours; provide safety equipment such as personal alarms; and purchase the IT essentials we need so that online support can be offered as an option even beyond lockdown.”

Just over £30,000 has also been awarded to a handful of smaller organisations working to support victims of domestic abuse to cope and recover.

Off the Fence Trust, a community group from Hove, received a grant of £6,200 to continue their work in reaching out to those at risk of exploitation and abuse through their women’s centre.

Off the Fence’s Gateway Women’s Centre Manager, Gen Fox said; “Since lockdown we have seen incidences of emotional and physical abuse rising and isolation is preventing many of them from seeking help.

"This crucial funding will enable us to purchase essential communications equipment to bridge this gap and provide travel funding so that we can increase our ‘on the doorstep’ work.”

Recorded sexual offences, excluding rape, spiked during lockdown in April 2020 rising by 13% to 329 crimes as opposed to 286 in March 2020. In May 2020 the figures then decreased again by 44% to 184 recorded offences.

However, PCC Bourne and local support services are worried that reports will rise again as lockdown restrictions loosen further with pubs and other night-time economy opening up again for the first time in over 3 months.

The remaining £216,082 has been shared between six charities working with victims of sexual violence. They range from specialist services trained to help victims of child sexual exploitation and their families, to a service with the aim of eradicating the stigma placed on male victims of sexual assault.

Lifecentre have been awarded £160,000 of this to continue providing counselling services for all victims of sexual assault and additional assessments for children who are currently on a waiting list.

CEO of Lifecentre, Kathryn Slatter said; “We are delighted to have been awarded this money to help us to support survivors of rape and sexual abuse across West Sussex.

“Survivors face many challenges due to the abuse they have experienced, including depression, anxiety, other mental health issues, sleep, eating disorders and substance misuse - the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated these.

“Lifecentre has a team of experienced counsellors and volunteers supporting people throughout this crisis. The money we have been awarded will help us to support even more survivors for longer throughout lockdown. It will allow us to provide extra care for our primary aged children and teenagers.”

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne comments: “Many of our local support services have struggled financially through lockdown, having to rapidly adapt their services to ensure help remains available for those in need.

“We are already seeing more people coming forward for help and, as lockdown restrictions loosen further, we must prepare to receive an even greater influx.

“This money will help local organisations to recoup and expand their services so they can continue to provide vital support to our most vulnerable.

“I’m thankful to all organisations that applied. It is evident that there are many good people in Sussex who are dedicating their time to helping others. The extra funding will go a long way towards making sure that victims are not left suffering in silence.”

If you have been a victim of crime you can find details of help and support on the Safe Space Sussex website:

Notes for editors

21 bids in total met the MoJ’s criteria and have been awarded funding as follows:

£23,393.88 – The Daisy Chain Project (domestic abuse service)
£135,457 – RISE (domestic abuse service)
£6,104 – Home Start East Sussex (domestic abuse service)
£24,726 – Veritas Justice (stalking advocacy service dealing with domestic abuse cases)
£49,670.11 – My Sisters House (domestic abuse service)
£29,950 – Change Grow Live (domestic abuse service)
£69,430 – Safe in Sussex (domestic abuse service)
£30,224.98 – Victim Support (domestic abuse service)
£39.371 – Brighton Women’s Centre (domestic abuse service)
£24,739 – Oasis Project (domestic abuse service)
£11.339 - Sussex Community Development Association (domestic abuse service)
£6,200 – Off the Fence (domestic abuse service)
£1,040 – Brighton Yoga Foundation ‘Yoga for Survivors’ (domestic abuse service)
£16,184.90 – Waves (domestic abuse service)
£6,897 – Friends, Families and Travellers (domestic abuse service)
£10,000 – Streetlight UK (sexual violence service)
£5,500 - YMCA WiSE (sexual violence service)
£160,507 – Lifecentre (sexual violence service)
£8,540.32 – Mankind (sexual violence service)
£30,718.77 – Survivors Network (sexual violence service)
£816.03 – Brambers Bakehouse (sexual violence service)