More help for domestic abuse victims 

Published: Friday, November 25, 2022

This White Ribbon Day, Wandsworth Council announces:

  • An increase in domestic abuse staff to ensure survivors get the help they need, when they need it.
  • Renewed commitment to act on a pledge to make Wandsworth safe for women and girls

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Victims and survivors of domestic abuse will get faster, more effective help as Wandsworth Council announces more staff to support them. 

And this White Ribbon Day, and during the 16 days of activism that start today, it sets out how it will deliver on its commitment to make the borough safe for all women and girls, day and night. 

Women in Wandsworth need more support. In the past year there were 2,800 domestic abuse incidents in Wandsworth. The extra investment in the service will help domestic abuse staff intervene as early as possible to prevent cases escalating to serious injuries or even death, will enable a more proactive approach to helping women and girls within communities, and will increase access to specialist services.

The pledge comes as research from Women’s Aid shows that the cost of living crisis is exacerbating the issue. It reports that sixty-six per cent of victims and survivors they spoke to said financial hardship was used as a tool for control and was stopping women leaving abusive relationships. 

A Violence Against Women and Girls community safety officer will be appointed, along with an additional coordinator for the MARAC, a multi-agency group which protects those at the highest risk. This will enable

  • A more proactive approach to making the borough safe for women and girls
  • More targeted outreach work in local communities, including working in schools, awareness-raising and specialist training. 
  • A survivors’ forum to give women a greater voice 
  • Work towards the Women’s Night Safety Charter

Further proposals for a specialist economic abuse and mental health Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy officer are also due to be discussed by councillors.

The council’s cabinet member for community safety Graeme Henderson said: “Today is White Ribbon Day, and the start of 16 days of activism. This council stands together to end violence against women and girls, and it will be a priority of this administration. The extra staff we are recruiting will enable us to help more people, more quickly and means we can take a long-term, strategic approach to ending domestic violence and abuse.

“This approach will put victims and survivors at the heart of our work and will see expanded services run by and for Black and ethnic minoritised groups. We will not stop work until all survivors from all communities can access support in Wandsworth.”

And the council’s Safety Champion Lizzy Dobres added: “1 in 4 women will be survivors of domestic abuse across their lifetimes, and the government estimates it costs health services £2bn a year. Specialist domestic abuse services are key to delivering life-saving support for survivors, and can make the difference between life or death. I am pleased to see our commitment to tackling this important issue"

Support for White Ribbon Day in Wandsworth includes a Torch Parade on November 28 organised by the SW15 Women’s Network. Meet at the junction of Danebury Avenue and Roehampton Lane at 6pm – all welcome. 

Daily posts on the council’s twitter account during the 16 days of activism will also promote sources of support.

The council has committed to working with partners to make Wandsworth a safer space for women and girls, day and night, and has pledged to ensure survivors get specialist help when they need it.  The work is overseen by the local Community Safety Partnership.

Progress so far includes:

  • A Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy
  • Signing up to the GLA’s Women’s Night Safety Charter
  • White Ribbon Accreditation, which includes raising awareness, changing cultures and engaging with men and boys. 
  • Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance Accreditation, recognising the housing department’s comprehensive and robust response to domestic abuse.
  • A Family Safeguarding Model which means domestic abuse experts sit in a team with social workers, mental health and substance misuse experts to enable a joined-up approach to helping families. 

Services for those who need help for advice include a weekly free drop-in one-stop shop for abuse victims and specialist support for complex cases, including accommodation when necessary. The council also commissions a free advocacy service – call 0203 879 3544.

Find out how to get help.