21 December 2015

It’s supposed to be the time of goodwill to all, but this is also the time when reports of domestic abuse are highest. So this year Sheffield City Council is boosting support services for victims of abuse with extra Government funding targeted at offering support to women who need to leave their homes and stay in a refuge to escape abuse.

An extra £28,000 will be given to train staff from local domestic abuse services so they can offer more effective help to women who are also experiencing issues with alcohol and drugs. Funding will also pay for extra refuge staff to increase the support available in the evenings and over the weekend.

The council is urging anyone experiencing domestic abuse to call the city’s freephone helpline on 0808 808 2241. Support is available for both women and men over the Christmas period.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for health, care and independent living at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s a sad fact that domestic abuse increases over Christmas, as people spend more time with their families and loved ones and there is pressure for everything to be perfect. While most people will be having a happy time, we know that some will be suffering at the hands of others and will need someone to turn to.

“Help is available in Sheffield and this extra funding means we’re able to do more. This includes training more people to support women in abusive situations who also have issues with drink and drugs, as fleeing abuse when you’re also battling these issues can be even harder.

“There are services for anyone suffering domestic abuse here in Sheffield – both men and women – and confidential advice is available through the freephone helpline. I’d urge anyone suffering to get in touch.”

It is estimated that around 20,000 adults and 12,000 children are affected by domestic abuse in Sheffield each year. Services usually see an increase in referrals around the holiday season.

A range of support services are available for people in Sheffield. Last year saw the opening of a new £2.5m purpose-built refuge which has 20 self-contained flats, a children’s play room, and communal areas. Altogether there are 36 refuges spaces in the city for women fleeing domestic abuse, as well as supported accommodation for male victims.

There are also services providing support to people in the community which offer practical and emotional support to help people become safer and move on with their lives. Support groups and counselling services are also available for people who need to recover from the long term impact of abuse. This includes support for people who have experienced sexual abuse as well as domestic abuse, and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Rotherham provides a confidential service to anyone (male and female) living in South Yorkshire who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

The extra £28,000 funding has come from the Department of Local Government and Communities following a bid developed by Sheffield City Council working in partnership with Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Area Refuge and Support (SARAS) and Action.

Communities Minister Baroness Williams said: “Domestic abuse is an appalling crime that shatters lives. This new funding will help Sheffield City Council provide a strong safety net for anyone facing the threat of abuse in their own home.”

Information about all local support services is available at www.sheffielddact.org.uk.

For help and support please contact the Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 808 2241 or by email at help@sheffielddact.org.uk. Or ring 999 if it’s an emergency.