Council sets up safe house for victims of domestic abuse in Stevenage

Respresentatives of the partners behind the safe space including from Stevenage Borough Council, Wel

Respresentatives of the partners behind the safe space including from Stevenage Borough Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and Hertfordshire Police. - Credit: Archant

A safe house where women or men can go to begin rebuilding their lives after suffering domestic abuse has been set up by Stevenage Borough Council.

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon taylor inside the 'safe space'

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon taylor inside the 'safe space' - Credit: Archant

The council has secured government funding and worked in partnership with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to set up the flat where victims can stay for up to seven days while they make arrangements to either leave the area, move to a refuge, or take steps to limit the abuse they are being subjected to.

The council secured more than £100,000 in funding over the the next two years to kit the flat out and pay for utilities.

It is thought to be the first of its kind in the area and builds on the women’s refuges already set up in Welwyn and Stevenage.

Victims will be referred through Stevenage’s ground-breaking Stevenage Against Domsetic Abuse service.

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Speaking to partner agencies including the police and representatives of the Department for Communities and Local Government, council leader Sharon Taylor launched the safe space.

She said: “One of the things I’m most proud of in Stevenage is SADA. I feel very passionately about it.

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“It’s successful because of the way the work here is co-ordinated by our amazing team and because of the strong partnerships we have with all of you to help the victims.

“I’m very grateful to you all for backing it and for the money from your agencies that has gone into it as well.”

Project leader Sarah, said the premises would offer people a vital “breathing space” so they have more time to make the often very sudden, life-changing decisions when fleeing from abuse.

She said these might include deciding whether to leave the area, to seek restraining orders from the police or enter a women’s refuge.

“People with families, or those on their own, will be able to go to the space and take stock of what they want to be able to do with their lives,” she said.

Chief Insp Tannis Perks, who leads policing in the town, added: “I’m really pleased again to see the strength of partnership working in tackling what can still be a daily reality for some people.

“I’ve every confidence that this latest piece of work will support those affected by domestic abuse.”

Stevenage Borough Council and SADA are also launching weekly drop-in sessions in July, so people who have suffered domestic abuse can speak to others who have been in the same situation. The idea came from the Stevenage forum for former victims of abuse.

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