Welcome boost for Your Sanctuary charity

A WOKING-based domestic abuse charity has been awarded more than £60,000 in additional funding to help with the costs of adapting working practices during lockdown and coping with the expected increase in demand for its services.

Your Sanctuary is one of 12 organisations supporting survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Surrey to share the £338,000 secured by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

FINANCIAL BACKING – Fiamma Pather, chief executive of Your Sanctuary, welcomed the additional funding but still has concerns about the future

During June, Your Sanctuary’s domestic abuse helpline received more than double the average number of calls for help. Surrey Police also received 221 reports of domestic abuse in the last week of the month, an increase of 10% on the same time last year.

The extra money is part of a national package from the Ministry of Justice to help charities and non-profit service providers deal with the expected surge in reports following the easing of restrictions surrounding COVID-19.

“This fund was aimed at giving short-term financial relief,” Fiamma Pather, chief executive of Your Sanctuary, said.

 “We have been allocated £60,851, some of which is to cover costs already incurred since March due to the COVID-19 crisis, for example, extra hours worked by our management team and staff members in order to respond to the lockdown, higher mobile phone costs and extra clinical supervision needed to support our frontline team.

“The remainder of the funding is to help us manage the extra demand on our services but will only last until the end of October 2020. Since the easing of lockdown we have seen a doubling in the number of calls received on our helpline and we expect that these numbers will continue to rise.

“Some of the funding was also to provide resources to our children’s workers, to enable them to work effectively with children and young people despite the restrictions of social distancing.

“While this extra funding is very welcome, we remain extremely concerned about the future,” Fiamma continued. “Many survivors – adults and children – who we will start to support now will need ongoing support far beyond October due to the risk that the perpetrator poses to them, as well as the complexity of their needs, so we will need to recruit and train additional staff in order to meet this extra demand.

“We therefore remain reliant on the support we receive from the community and from trusts and foundations to enable us to continue to provide our life-saving services next year and beyond.”

But at least for the short term there is some financial assistance.

PCC David Munro said: “As lockdown measures are gradually lifted, those affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence at home may begin to feel able to come forward.

“This extra funding is a great step towards ensuring that when they do so, they are given the best support possible to recover and rebuild their lives.

“These organisations provide a crucial lifeline for those who need it most so this is really good news at a time when the need for their services has never been greater.”

Anyone worried about or affected by domestic abuse in Surrey can contact the Your Sanctuary Domestic Abuse Helpline seven days a week from 9am-9pm on 01483 776822, or via online chat at https://yoursanctuary.org.uk. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

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