Changing Lives has been awarded a total of £112,511 in extra funding to provide help and support to people across the country who have suffered sexual exploitation and violence and domestic abuse during lockdown.

The money is part of the Ministry of Justice’s £76m package of additional funding to help vulnerable victims through the Covid-19 pandemic and is being distributed by the country’s police and crime commissioners.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness made an award of £25,250 to support the work of the Girls Are Proud (GAP) and Male Action Project (MAP) projects which provide pro-active outreach and in-reach work with victims, offering both emotional and practical support.

Steve White, Acting Police Crime & Victims’ Commissioner for Durham, awarded £25,045 to help victims who have been referred to us by police, the probation service, social services, and other charities.

Cheshire Police Commissioner David Keane made an award of £47,700 to create an additional three temporary Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA) posts, which provide emotional and practical support to people fleeing domestic abuse.

Jay Grech, Area Manager for Changing Lives said: “Lockdown created a high-risk situation for people that were experiencing domestic violence, exacerbated by the additional pressures of lockdown and leaving people trapped in difficult and dangerous situations at home. We were very concerned about the numbers being reported and also the numbers of hidden incidents of domestic abuse.”

“As the lockdown began to lift, this demand continued to increase and the extra support of three additional IDVA allows us to process referrals quicker and provide greater support to people who need it.”

Until the additional funding was awarded, we were only able to support victims who had been assessed as medium-high risk. The extra funding allows us to extend our work to those who are assessed as low-medium risk.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy awarded £9,500 in extra funding to help protect the growing number of women who are at risk after turning to selling sex on Merseyside.

Jay Grech said: “During the lockdown period there has been a reduction in support and outreach work, but our Red Umbrella project, which helps protect women selling sex on the street from abuse and exploitation, continued and offered additional crisis management support.

“This funding allows us to extend the outreach work of our Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVA) at a time when we are seeing an increase in sexual violence and physical abuse.”

The additional Sexual Violence Outreach Support Worker will work directly with people selling sex who are victims of abuse or crime by helping them report the matter to the police and navigating their way through the Criminal Justice System and support our existing ISVA.

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner made an award of £5056 to help women who have experienced domestic abuse, sexual violence and other trauma in York.

The trauma groups at the Women’s Wellness Centre were close to capacity before lockdown and the extra funding has allowed us to increase staff hours and buy workbooks and tablets to ensure everyone can still access trauma therapies remotely.

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