How women who have suffered domestic abuse are helping shape policies to tackle the problem in Sunderland
Women who have suffered from domestic abuse have been helping city leaders tackle the problem – though chiefs admit some of their accounts have been ‘hard to hear’.
It came as this week Sunderland City Council Cabinet approved the area’s draft Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation and Support Services Strategy 2021-2024.
To help form the plans, council chiefs have spoke to survivors of domestic abuse and the Sunderland Domestic Abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls Executive Board, who helped develop a needs assessment.
The board was recently appointed by the Cabinet to support the council to fulfil its duty under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and to address the wider violence against women and girls agenda.
Councillor Kelly Chequer, cabinet member for Healthy City, who presented the report, said stories from victims have been “hard to hear”, but necessary in forming a support strategy.
She said: “I would rather be sat here not bringing this report, not having the need to.
“The stories of survivors are some of the reasons that we’re here doing what we’re doing today.
“The engagement through the consultation has been quite hard to hear at times from victim survivors, but also absolutely needed to inform the strategy moving forward.”
The comments were made at the City Council’s Cabinet meeting at the Civic Centre on Tuesday, October 12.
Cllr Linda Williams, cabinet member for Vibrant City, commented it is an “extremely complex area” which has a huge impact on women and children affected.
She said: “Quite often by the time the woman gets to the point of being able to leave, she’s absolutely shattered into pieces, and it’s really difficult to pick those pieces up.”
Cllr Graeme Miller, City Council leader, stressed domestic abuse in an area which they must continue to focus on and prioritise.
He said: “The fact that we have a safe accommodation and support service coming forward shows our commitment to working to deal with domestic abuse.
“It’s complex and we must invest here, and I’m delighted that we’ve got such a good strategy coming forward that enables us to engage.”
The draft strategy involves a high level action plan for delivery of four strategic priorities, which include providing quality service interventions and increasing safe accommodation provision.
The work comes after The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 received Royal assent in April, providing improved protection for the many victims of domestic abuse, as well as strengthening measures to tackle perpetrators.
Council chiefs will now engage with stakeholders on the draft strategy to refine it, ahead of the final document coming before Cabinet in December.