Fife Council showcases improved housing support for domestic and sexual abuse victims

To mark this year’s Scottish Housing Day, Fife Council has highlighted the issue of domestic abuse to remind people of the available support.

Fife Council showcases improved housing support for domestic and sexual abuse victims

(from left) Top: WHIR project officer Sandra Brown and Cllr Judy Hamilton

Bottom: Fife Council's service manager - housing Paul Short and head of housing services John Mills with Kate McCormack

Domestic abuse is closely linked to repeat homelessness and has a significant impact on women and children’s health and wellbeing. Nationally, 11% of homeless people find themselves in this situation because of a dispute within the household: violent or abusive. Last year there were 4,436 incidents of domestic abuse and 944 sexual crimes in Fife reported to Police Scotland. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in reports of domestic abuse across Scotland.

The Women’s Health Improvement Research (WHIR) Project, together with Fife Housing Partnership, has been working with women who have experienced domestic abuse to improve housing support - including the reduction of homelessness.

Councillor Judy Hamilton, convener of communities and housing services committee, said: “We recognise that sexual and domestic abuse isn’t exclusive to women. However, as national research shows, it’s generally the woman and children who leave the home following this type of abuse.

“The Project has focused on staff having conversations earlier, as good housing advice at an early stage can help reduce homelessness. It’s important that we provide a range of options to ensure that woman and children are safe but also, where possible, to enable them to stay in the family home.  It’s important that we present women with options wherever possible and support them to make decisions – having options is empowering.  We have been developing practical solutions to help women sustain their settled living situation.”

Fife Council is working with Fife housing partners, including Fife Violence Against Women, to ensure the right support and advice is available when needed.

Kate McCormack, manager of Fife Women’s Aid, said: “We have been working closely with Fife Council throughout the Project – we have fed in the views of women who have experienced domestic abuse to make sure that changes to service improve the situation for other women experiencing domestic abuse.”

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