Housing providers can play a key role in tackling domestic violence. Here one specialist charity explains how it is working with the sector to improve support.
AVA (Against Violence & Abuse) is a national charity working to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We’re a second tier service, meaning that rather than providing a frontline service, we focus on inspiring innovation and collaboration, encouraging and enabling direct service providers to help us meet our vision.
Violence is often a cause of homelessness, so our work has always included a focus on the housing sector.
In the past year, we’ve worked with commissioners to investigate domestic violence as a cause of rough sleeping, both for perpetrators and survivors, helping them improve partnerships between the homelessness and domestic violence sectors.
For frontline practitioners, we’ve run training sessions for homelessness workers and mental health supported housing workers on identifying and supporting survivors of domestic violence and for refuge workers on understanding the links between survivors’ experience of violence and their problematic substance use.
At the policy level, we’ve advised St Mungo’s on the development of their new women’s strategy and we’re now conducting a piece of research to map the extent of domestic violence refuge provision currently available to women who use drugs or alcohol or have mental health problems.
From our work, we know that it’s the women who need services the most who are least likely to receive them. Generally, domestic violence survivors don’t just need accommodation to flee to, they need support around a whole range of social and emotional needs in order to recover. Our work reflects the belief that meeting these needs requires the shared expertise of both the domestic violence and the homelessness sectors.
More information about AVA is available at www.avaproject.org.uk.
Shannon Harvey co-ordinates the Stella project at AVA, which addresses gaps in the current service provision in London for both survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence who use substances problematically
Tackling domestic violence is the subject of our Focus section this week. For more articles visit the Focus page, and join in the discussion in the forum or on Twitter using the #tacklingviolence hashtag