Covid funds support extra services for women

Covid funds support extra services for women Image

WOMEN who have been subject to domestic violence in Dundee have faced much shorter waiting times for services after they were boosted by COVID remobilisation funds.

The reduction in average waiting times across a number of services is revealed in a new report to be considered by councillors next week.

Members of Dundee City Council’s community safety and public protection committee will be told that the council and Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership have provided additional investment in third sector violence against women services in order to mitigate the impact of domestic abuse and sexual violence on women, children and young people.

Lynne Short deputy committee convener said: “Knowing that two periods of lockdown and the additional measures to reduce COVID infection saw an increase in gender-based domestic violence, investing in local services that help people in that situation was an important thing to do.

“The frontline support that our third sector partners are able to give as a result of this funding has been crucial in getting services to those in need far quicker than might otherwise have been the case.”

A report detailing the leadership of public protection arrangements in the city reveals that the investment supported three full time equivalent posts at Dundee Women’s Aid and two full time equivalent posts at the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASAC).

These posts have been targeted to reduce waiting times for access to support and as a direct consequence there has been a significant reduction.

At Dundee Women’s Aid the average wait for refuge accommodation has decreased from 49 days (1 March 2021 to 30 June 2021) to zero days (1 July 2021 to 31 October 2021) and outreach has decreased from 102 days (1 March 2021 to 30 June 2021) to 39 days (1 July 2021 to 31 October 2021).

Since additional capacity was added in July 2021 the monthly average waiting time for outreach services has fallen consistently from 64 days in July 2021 to eight days in October 2021.

Mary Miller, CEO of Dundee Women’s Aid said: “We are delighted with the positive impact this funding has had on the women we support, it means women contacting us get the support they need to address their issues and deal with crisis at the point of need rather than the situation spiralling out of their control while they wait for our services.

“It takes great courage to approach our service and ask for help, many women blame themselves and are embarrassed at the situation they find themselves in. It’s not their fault and we are here to help, we are led by what women see as their priorities so urge any women out there to get in touch with us.”

Meanwhile at WRASAC the average wait for therapeutic and counselling support has reduced from a high of an average of 162 days at the end of June 2021 to an average of 42 days at the end of October 2021. As at 25 November 2021 the average waiting time had reduced further to 28 days. There has also been more than a 50% reduction in the number of individual women waiting for support since the new posts were introduced in August 2021.

In addition, the service has successfully secured matched funding for the COVID remobilisation monies to allow the increased capacity to continue to 31 March 2023.

Katie Hardy-Jensen, WRASAC manager said: “At WRASAC we are so happy to be able to report a decrease in waiting times for women who are accessing our service. The service we provide always aims to be led by survivors needs, so when survivors reach out to our service we want to be able to provide access to support as quickly as possible.

“When a survivor contacts us and then has to wait months for support this can negatively impact on their mental and physical health and wellbeing. We cannot thank the DVAWP and DH&SCP enough for the support of our service enabling us to reach more survivors in the Dundee area.”

COVID remobilisation funds were also used by third sector support services to respond to urgent requests for mobile phones, fuel, food and travel costs targeted to enhance safety and reduce risk.

The funding is supporting the council’s children and families service to temporarily enhance operational manager capacity with a focus on leadership and professional support to social work services, including child protection, to ensure effective responses to domestic abuse.

The community safety and public protection meets on Monday (January 10).

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