News – Bolton – Emergency accommodation for domestic abuse victims as demand soars

Bolton is set for a huge investment in emergency accommodation for those fleeing domestic violence and abuse after a massive surge in demand.

Figures published by Bolton Council show a 43 per cent increase in those requesting a safe place from abuse in the past three years.

There is also ‘insufficient safe accommodation to meet overall demand in Bolton’ which put victims of domestic abuse in housing which places them at more risk.

The council has been given £682,592 this year from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to enhance the safe accommodation and support those suffering from violence.

The council has published its Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Strategy for 2022 – 2025 which states that more than nine in 10 seeking refuge are female.

It reveals there has been a steady increase in demand for accommodation relating to domestic abuse over the last three years, with a 43 per cent increase between financial year 2018/19 and 2020/21.

The report states: “Our biggest social housing provider, Bolton at Home supported 329 victims of domestic abuse in financial year 2020-21.

“92 per cent of these were female and three per cent from an ethnic minority background.

“From April 2018 to Feb 2021, our Housing Options Service, who work with the homeless or those threatened with homelessness supported 1,588 clients, 69 per cent were deemed at risk of domestic abuse.

“Just over 50 per cent indicated their housing issue was either ‘fleeing abuse at their current property’ or ‘relationship breakdown with a violent partner.”

Bolton currently has a domestic violence refuge in an undisclosed location which has 22 self-contained units to accommodate female victims and their children.

There are a further six dispersed domestic abuse specific properties for both male and female victims of domestic abuse who may also have complex needs.

Over the three-year period, 149 female victims and 228 children were housed and supported in the refuge.

The predominant age range was 25-34 (51.7 per cent) with two residents aged over-55 during this period.

In terms of major presenting issues over the three years 63 per cent of victims identified having mental health issues.

A further 14 per cent had drug misuse problems and seven per cent admitted to alcohol problems.

The report detailed gaps in the system which will be addressed by the additional funding.

It said: “There is insufficient safe accommodation to meet overall demand in Bolton meaning victims being placed in temporary accommodation due to a lack of available and suitable local safe accommodation.

“This is putting is immense pressure on our B&B accommodation.

“Using temporary accommodation without the wraparound support increases the risk of the victim returning back to the abusive partner.

“Victims with teenage children are struggling to find safe refuge accommodation.

“Our refuge has sourced additional safe accommodation to address this but units are limited so this is an issue.”

The Local Government Association has indicated there is likely to be funding for future years for the provision of more safe accommodation.

However, the report cautions that the level of funding has not been confirmed and at this stage there is no indication as to the funding levels for 2022/23 and beyond.

Bolton Council’s cabinet is set to accept the strategy on Monday, January 10.

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