VICTIMS of domestic violence and abuse are to benefit from an enhanced service launched in South Gloucestershire.
The charity Next Link was awarded the contract by South Gloucestershire Council to provide safe accommodation and support services for victims.
Next Link will provide a 15 per cent increase in refuge capacity to provide support for an additional 20 households.
It will meet the needs and demands of all victims, including men, women and their children who are affected, and LGBT victims.
Cllr Heather Goddard, cabinet member for Community Services and Tourism, said: “Under the new contract, our service is being extended to offer support for male and LGBT victims, as well as women and their children who are affected by these issues.
“We are also increasing our refuge capacity and the dedicated support line will be staffed over more hours each week.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our previous provider Survive for all the work they have done over the years to help victims of domestic violence in South Gloucestershire.”
In addition, the service will provide a 24 per cent increase in the number of hours which the support line for victims is operated.
Over 12 months, that’s an additional 572 hours of help and support which is available to victims.
Carol Metters MBE, chief executive of Next Link Domestic Abuse Services, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to deliver this service to victims of domestic abuse across South Gloucestershire.
“For over 18 years Next Link has successfully provided innovative domestic abuse services including safe houses for victims that need to flee and community services for those that want to remain in the community and be safe.
“It is important that victims know there is help available to make them and their children safe, it’s not their fault, it shouldn’t be happening and it is a crime.
“Our extensive experience has shown us that victims who receive support go on to have safe fulfilling lives free from violence and abuse.”
Lisa Harvey, South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Deputy Nurse Director, said: “We are pleased that the new contract will continue to deliver a service to provide training, support and advocacy in all GP practices in South Gloucestershire.
“This will enable help to be offered to service users and their children at an early stage before the abuse becomes a serious risk to metal and physical health.
“Under the new contract, Next Link will also provide support and advocacy within Southmead Hospital in both the Accident and Emergency Department and Maternity unit for those who have experience domestic violence and abuse.
“This will give people the opportunity to talk with specially trained staff within a hospital setting, who can offer immediate confidential support.”
Next Link will bring an 18 per cent increase in frontline staffing, providing an extra 2,678 dedicated frontline staffing hours per year.
Service users and partner organisations involved in helping victims of domestic violence and abuse have been kept informed of the changes and details for the new provider during the interim period.
Anyone in South Gloucestershire who needs to access the service can do so in the following ways: Call 0800 4700 280, text 07714 290011, message online at www.nextlinkhousing.co.uk/southglos or email firstname.lastname@example.org