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London’s domestic violence services having to rely on volunteers, report warns

Victims and survivors are “falling through the gaps”, London Councils warned
Victims and survivors are “falling through the gaps”, London Councils warned

Domestic violence services in London have to rely on unpaid staff and volunteers to stay open because funding does not cover their costs, a report has warned.

Victims and survivors are “falling through the gaps” because financing is fragmented and obtaining it complex, the research commissioned by London Councils found.

Council, police and City Hall staff who participated agreed that the amount of money available was not sufficient for domestic abuse facilities to meet demand in the capital.

One commissioner from a local authority said they were saddened that providers often thought councils were “not funding them, or not recognising them”.

“But it’s not that,” they added. “It’s just you literally have no funds to do any of this.”

Another said: “It’s just a really challenging space, demand continues to outweigh the capacity and the money that’s available in the system.”

Specialist and by-and-for organisations were worst impacted by cash shortages.

The report, due to be launched in Parliament on Wednesday evening, made eight recommendations, including the need for more comprehensive and longer-term funding settlements and that the Home Office and Ministry of Justice take steps to address the lack of specialist support for children affected by domestic abuse.

Jas Athwal, London Councils executive member for violence against women and girls, said: “The short-term nature of funding to provide support services means vulnerable Londoners are being exposed to unnecessary risk whilst facing barriers in accessing the vital support they need.

“We need long term and sustainable funding to ensure that Londoners can access the right support for them and at the right time.

“London boroughs are working together to highlight it and to do everything we can to tackle it in all its forms, working in conjunction with our partners.

“London Councils’ report sets out just how vital support services for survivors of violence against women and girls are, and why it’s so important that we secure long-term funding guarantees to be able to deliver it.”