East Suffolk Council has been working in partnership with other districts and boroughs across the districts to deliver an enhanced and tailored approach to those suffering from domestic abuse. In partnership with Anglia Care Trust and Orwell Housing, we have been able to deliver a number of services across the district, including the provision of satellite unit accommodation, enabling the provision of specialist accommodation based support to help local areas meet the priorities for domestic abuse services. This has ensured the safety of those fleeing domestic abuse and providing a holistic approach to support victims who are not able to access refuge accommodation because of complex needs. This is a provision offered in addition to refuge accommodation available in Lowestoft and other areas of the district and across East Suffolk. We have two units of accommodation in the North and two in the South that are accessible by all Suffolk local authorities on a reciprocal basis.
We work closely with Suffolk Police and domestic violence services across the district and a member of the Housing Needs Team represents the council at all Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) meetings, taking place each month to discuss high risk domestic violence cases where action is urgently needed. In addition, we have an in-house Domestic Violence Officer who provides assistance to anyone presenting, fleeing domestic abuse. This role provides assistance with accessing refuge accommodation, safety planning, referrals and one on one support to ensure support is offered until the victim is in a place of safety and enabling ‘move on’ to independence once ready to move on.
Alongside the above services we have been working closely with Suffolk County Council and Anglia Care Trust as they extend the Domestic Abuse Outreach Service (DAOS) to include a 24/7 freephone helpline. With lockdown measures in place over the last few months, it is important that those who may find themselves at risk of abuse at home, can access the right support at whatever time they need it. The existing Domestic Abuse Outreach Service have extended its 0800 977 5690 freephone number to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone with concerns including professionals who may be supporting clients, as well as friends and families who are concerned for loved ones, can access this local support.
The government advice, encouraging people to stay at home as much as possible, will have created additional challenges to those at risk of domestic abuse who may feel unable to access safe support. Domestic abuse remains a priority for partners across Suffolk during this period.
The service also includes an Anglia Care Trust live web chat each day from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Our advice is that if people are in immediate danger, they should call the police on 999. If someone is unable to speak or make a sound, but needs immediate help, they should call 999 and stay on the line, then press 55 when prompted and the call will be transferred to the police, who will know it is an emergency call.
Suffolk Police has distributed over 80 awareness raising packs to supermarkets across Suffolk over the last few weeks and the phone line will be promoted through the Suffolk County Council social media channels. In addition, the message has been translated into the top ten most used languages in Suffolk.
We are committed to support anyone that presents, fleeing domestic abuse and any enquiries of this nature are prioritised as urgent so a member of the Housing Needs Team would make contact with the victim, or an agency calling on their behalf, on the same day and as soon a practicably possible.
We have been able to build longstanding relationships with partners and other statutory and voluntary services, that have benefited all our clients, by offering a holistic approach and ensuring their safety is always our priority. Working closely with the Suffolk Police Domestic Abuse Team, independent domestic violence advisors and Domestic Abuse Outreach Services we have been able to facilitate access to relevant services and information as well as completing risk assessments and safety plans to support all victims every step of the way.