Today (20th March), Birmingham City Council, in partnership with Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, has opened a new domestic abuse hub, said to provide support to those experiencing and fleeing domestic violence.
The centre is due to take a ‘holistic approach’ to supporting women suffering from abuse that will include a range of both prevention and crisis support services, adding that it has been designed to be more than just a physical place for women to take shelter.
The hub is to act as a specialist environment that will provide advice, information and support to women at risk of domestic abuse, who are as a result at risk of homelessness.
Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, working in partnership with the Council’s Housing Options team, will ensure a tailored, specialist response leading to improved outcomes for women and children.
The pilot has been co-funded by the Council and Women’s Aid and is expected to see up to 25 new cases a day.
While today marks the official opening of the hub, it has been operational on a trial basis for two months.
Feedback from the trail included that of one woman who commented: “I finally feel like I’ve made a massive step in the right direction, and I can soon leave all the terrible experiences in the past to move on to a new life.
“This service is supportive and life-changing. It’s given me an awesome sense of relief.”
Commenting on the launch, Cllr Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for homes and neighbourhoods, said: “I’m proud to be involved in the launch of this new centre that will provide a haven, expert support and the start of the end to the suffering of women and their children right across this city.
“We can’t continue putting plasters on major issues like domestic violence and homelessness, hoping that they just go away.
“They need to be faced head-on with innovation, the right support and the right expertise. That’s why we joined with our partner, Women’s Aid, so that we can come together and put in place the best response to domestic violence and the risk of homelessness.”
She added: “In Birmingham, we’ve seen the number of people experiencing homelessness skyrocket over the last five years, and until we start to address these underlying causes, we’ll never eradicate homelessness from our city.
“Domestic violence is one of the leading causes for homelessness. By putting this specialist care and support in place, it means that those who are at risk of homelessness are identified and supported at an earlier stage meaning that they are less likely to become homeless.”
In June of last year, Birmingham launched both its homelessness and domestic abuse prevention strategies, which identified domestic violence as accounting for 20% of all its homeless cases.
The strategies were both led by more than 30 organisations from across the public, private and third sectors.
Maureen Connolly, CEO at Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, said: “This collaboration is a significant advance in the way we approach domestic violence in Birmingham.
“By understanding and responding to its impact upon women and children, the multi-disciplinary team offers a service, focussed upon the needs of women and children affected by domestic violence.
“It accounts for all factors, the risks that might lead to the need to leave behind everything they have, including their homes, belongings, family, friends, pets, as well as their employment and schools with a view to become safe.
“Our job is to be empathetic, informative and honest, offer a prevention approach as well as to support women and children through changes to make them free from the fear of abuse.”