'Heartbreaking' - Domestic abuse forum fights for survival as funding lost

Support staff at the Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum.

Support staff at the Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum. The forum has missed out on £30,000 of funding this year, putting the future of their trauma therapy service in doubt. Christine Topper, Chair of Trustees, Irina Hodkinson and Hayley Hodger, Advice and Guidance. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The manager of a vital service which helps victims of domestic abuse rebuild their lives says it is at risk of closure after it lost more than £30,000 in crucial funding.

The Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum, whose home is at the Kirkley Centre in Lowestoft, has supported thousands of survivors over the last four decades and continue to get daily referrals from health providers.

Yet the charity has had to close its waiting list, which already includes 64 people in need, as it searches for £30,000 in funding to continue to operate.

Irina Hodkinson, manager of the Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum.

Irina Hodkinson, manager of the Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The charity supports women, men and families who have been affected by domestic abuse offering services including trauma therapy, and safety planning for those still in an abusive relationship.

Manager Irina Hodkinson said: "We have been in existence for about 40 years as a forum for domestic violence to share information and services with clients who have been victims of abuse.

"They are referred to us to get help, financially or with housing, or through our trauma therapy.

"A lot of our clients are still quite traumatised as a result of their experiences and are trying to rebuild their lives while the perpetrator has gone through the court case and moved on.

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"Even after a court case, many victims daren't move on or leave their homes.

"We have have funding from the Lloyds Foundation for the last four years, but their area has now extended to include London too and they haven't been able to offer us the same funding this year.

"The Police and Crime Commissioner has supported us brilliantly with £25,000, meaning we can keep our office open.

"But the loss of the Lloyds funding means we have about £30,000 we need to replace."

The charity, which is still supported by the Lloyds Foundation and Suffolk Community Foundation in other areas, is searching for the funds to keep offering trauma therapy.

Ms Hodkinson said: "We are now looking to apply for more grant funding, but at the moment a lot of those funds are going to Ukraine, and I completely agree with that.

"All of our services really help people, but it is our trauma therapy which is an essential part of that.

"Whenever I speak to the referral agencies, they always say there are limited options to send people in our area.

"We support a lot of people in Great Yarmouth too, but for people in Lowestoft it is a long way to have to go to Norwich, Ipswich or Bury St Edmunds to get help, and this isn't the sort of thing you can do over the phone.

"I don't know where they will go if we have to close."

Support staff at the Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum.

Support staff at the Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum. The forum has missed out on £30,000 of funding this year, putting the future of their trauma therapy service in doubt. Hayley Hodger, Advice and Guidance, Christine Topper, Chair of Trustees and Irina Hodkinson. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Ms Hodkinson says the coronavirus pandemic and the cost of living crisis, which has worsened financial worries for many families, has significantly increased demand on health services.

She said: "There are 64 people on our waiting list and we have had to stop taking people on because we don't know if we will have the funds to continue and that is really heartbreaking.

"We have a massive waiting list and we're still getting referrals every day.

"Throughout the pandemic, domestic violence has increased dramatically.

"This year alone, until March 15, police have recorded 456 incidents in east Suffolk, and we know only about 50pc of our clients have reported their cases to police, so the figures are only the tip of the iceberg.

"Because of Covid, health services are overwhelmed too and we've been getting more referrals as a result of that too."

The Kirkley Centre in Lowestoft.

The Kirkley Centre in Lowestoft. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Anyone looking to donate to the charity can do so by visiting the Forum's official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/waveneydaforum.

Any easyfundraising page has also been set up, allowing people to support the charity while shopping online. For more information, go to: www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/waveneydomesticviolenceandabuseforum

To get support or advice from the Forum, call 01502 572 143 or 07906 245 979 or email info@waveneydvforum.org.uk