A new pilot scheme is to offer support to women in the Chesham area who are suffering domestic abuse.
The £25,000 one year pilot project which was launched in February 2016 by Buckinghamshire Council’s Wellbeing team working with Wycombe Women’s Aid.
Previously, victims from the town were offered support by Wycombe Women’s Aid but there was no base in Chesham for one to one support, so take-up was low. So far with ten women have been referred to the service.
Support offered includes face-to-face counselling as well as childcare advice and the opportunity to join a group of like-minded women.
Martin Phillips, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health at the Council, explained: ‘We have now established a structure and a regular location in Chesham for staff to meet women who have suffered domestic violence. A support worker is based there 1.5 days per week.
We knew there was a need for this service in the town and so far this project has been vindicated by the take-up. It’s very important we provide advice and support here and help these women to rebuild their lives.‘
Denise, the manager of the outreach team at Wycombe Women’s Aid, said: ‘Previously, the women of Chesham were out on a limb a bit and it was difficult for them to come to us in Wycombe. The reception to this has been brilliant and the women we have seen have really engaged with us.‘
Denise added that domestic violence includes physical financial and sexual abuse as well as emotional and psychological abuse. ‘It’s all about the coercive control within a relationship that people don’t recognise,‘ she said. ‘Sometimes they think they have done something wrong, but the support we can offer can help them to realise they are not to blame.
We want more women to know that the service is there for them and that we are not going to judge them. This is what we do every day. Our services are confidential so there shouldn’t be any repercussions, but the first thing some women who have children think is that we are going to take them off them. That is not the case. We work with them not against them.‘
National figures from Women’s Aid show that on average every week in England and Wales two women are killed by their partner or ex-partner. Domestic abuse-related crime is 8% of total crime and on average the police receive an emergency call relating to domestic abuse every 30 seconds.
Female victims of domestic violence can ring 07483 993098. The service is free and confidential. Male victims can call the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.