VICTIMS of domestic abuse are being given a helping hand with a new service.

Hampshire County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Simon Hayes, are working together to ensure domestic abuse victims across the county can better access services that they trust.

By working in partnership through a new joint commissioning strategy, the aim is to offer a more seamless countywide service that will support the whole family and enable people affected by domestic abuse to take back control of their lives.

The services will have the victims at their centre - a key priority set out in the commissioner’s police and crime plan. In addition, the process will be prevention-focussed as well as providing co-ordinated interventions for families in crisis. Over four years, the integrated services will make up a £7.2m package of support for people affected by domestic abuse. Currently in Hampshire, during a 12 month period, around 1,000 women and children are provided with emergency accommodation, and over 900 victims of domestic abuse and their family members are given support within the community.

The new approach will also see a greater investment in community services, which will mean that more people can be helped in their own homes, surrounded by their support network of friends and family, rather than going into a refuge.

Refuges will continue to be used to offer immediate short-term help for those families in crisis but the county council and Mr Hayes are working with district housing providers to seek alternative solutions for people who are unable to stay in their own home, and to help people to move on from a stay in a refuge.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care and public health, said: “By working together, we are able to provide a better, consistent and integrated service to people in Hampshire affected by domestic abuse – women, men and children.

“We want to ensure that the needs of the victims come first and that the support we provide empowers them to take control of their lives, and most importantly helps them to be, and feel, safe.

“Funding for these vital services will increase, and by making changes and working in partnership we will be able to provide better services and support more families.”

Mr Hayes added: “Domestic abuse can be a hidden terror for many victims fearing what might happen if they speak out.

“I want victims to feel empowered to come forward, and so it is vital that in Hampshire, we ensure anyone seeking help and protection from an abusive situation can get the support they need.

“By working with the county council we will develop our approach to domestic abuse services based on the needs of victims and their families.

“Moving victims away from their homes for immediate crisis protection might be necessary in some cases, but is not a long term solution. Where possible, better coordinated outreach services will support more families to stay in their own homes and maintain their lives, and that of their family.”

The service changes will be progressively introduced and are based on consultation with people who have accessed existing domestic violence services, organisations providing the services, and key partners.