Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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PCC allocates 169,000 to help services supporting Domestic Abuse and Serious Violence victims in Bedfordshire as cases rise during pandemic
******** Warning! This press release discusses attacks of sexual violence **********
 
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has launched a new fund for services supporting Domestic Abuse and Serious Violence victims during the Covid-19 pandemic, distributing £169,000 which she won from the Ministry of Justice after a rise in violence within the home nationally. 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has allocated funds made up of £113,000 for services the Police and Crime Commissioner already commissions and a further £56,500 for additional projects.

The Commissioner instructed her office to engage with local organisations and specialists in the causes of Domestic Violence and most effective way to help victims escape from it to understand where the money would be best put to use.
 
“It’s hugely welcome that this extra emergency help is being made available by the Ministry of Justice during the pandemic. It’s incredibly disturbing that national helplines have seen a surge in calls and this is, naturally, reflected in those needing help right now in this county and those who are likely to have their first chance to access support when the lockdown is raised further,” said PCC Holloway.

The fund was advertised by the Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and partners were invited to an online meeting where the fund distribution was explained and discussed against the needs of victims, identified by charities and victim support organisations in the county.
 
The applications were reviewed with an ambition to support organisations and charities of all sizes, reaching as many victims across the county as possible. Applications needed to address how the funding would support the rise seen in Domestic Abuse during the pandemic and had to relate to the following areas:
 
·       IDVAs; Independent Domestic Violence Advisors
·       CHIDVAs; Child focused Independent Domestic Violence Advisors
·       Family Court support
·       Face to face or remote counselling for individuals and/or their families
·       Support for particular groups such as Disabled, LGBT victims or those from Black and Minority Ethnic community groups.
 
“It’s very important to me that these funds are available to help all victims of Domestic Abuse, whatever their gender, cultural background or whether or not they have a disability. Nobody should have to suffer in silence, imprisoned in the very place where they have every right to feel safest; within their own homes,” said Commissioner Holloway.
 
The following organisations were awarded funds:-
 
Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust
The Safer Luton Partnership
Home Start
ACCM UK
Reactiv8 the Nation CIC
Living Your Life (Bedfordshire)
Luton All Women Centre
Counselling Foundation
Mindfulness Support Service CIC
The Hope Programme
FACES
TOKKO Ltd.
Embrace
Azalea
 
The projects Commissioner Holloway is supporting range from specialist counselling advice to secure smart devices to allow victims of Domestic Abuse to access ongoing help without having to share a phone, tablet or computer while under the care of the Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, working to keep families together in care proceedings. 
 
After informing organisations of their allocations, many shared emails of thanks to the OPCC for its understanding of the need for such emergency provision.
 
Helen Snowden, Community Relations Manager for Azalea, which works to support women being exploited within the sex industry, often through human trafficking, gave a stark example of the type of victim the funding will now support “The money will go directly to supporting clients that have suffered extreme trauma, like ‘Olivia’. After being gang raped by five men 'Olivia' came to Azalea and wanted to feel safe. She could not talk after the disclosure and simply stayed at the location for a period of contemplation. After a while ‘Olivia’ spoke and told the team that the space in Azalea has been a healing place, not a place of patronising platitudes but of actual peace and healing.”
 
The PCC also received messages of support for the way the fund is being distributed from the Chief Executives of voluntary organisations the Hope Programme, Embrace, The Children’s Charity and from Domestic Abuse specialists who were asked to give their time to help her office ensure the funds were allocated to those on the front line of Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.