Wokingham Borough Council is committed to a comprehensive response to domestic abuse that provides support for people who experience it and holds perpetrators to account.
The council has been working for many months with stakeholders from across the borough to produce a new Domestic Abuse Strategy, which is set to be discussed by the decision making executive next month. The aims of the draft strategy being considered include reaching out to Wokingham borough residents who are experiencing domestic abuse, whilst working towards a society in which people can live without fear of abuse or violence.
A Domestic Abuse Partnership Group has been established to coordinate the council’s new statutory duties under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, supported by a Domestic Abuse Networking Group consisting of over 40 local organisations.
In addition, a cross party equalities group of local councillors is to assess different options to signal the council’s commitment to addressing Violence Against Women and Girls (which includes male victims of domestic abuse), at its meeting in the new year.
Working with local partners
The council is also working with local partner organisations to deliver a programme of free events to educate, raise awareness, and grow the network of help and support that is available to domestic abuse victims living in the borough.
The programme of events starts today (25 November – which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women), the first day of the annual campaign, 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. It includes free multi-agency training events and the launch of new resources to support those experiencing domestic abuse within Wokingham Borough.
Executive member for neighbourhood and communities Cllr Bill Soane said: “Following on from the domestic abuse draft strategy consultation in the summer, we want to celebrate the many agencies and individuals who have helped to increase our knowledge of what residents feel is needed to enable them to easily access information about domestic abuse and what ‘good’ support looks and feels like.
“With the upcoming launch of the council’s domestic abuse strategy, we are keen to build on this understanding and are urging local practitioners and residents to work with us, which will help shape our dynamic and ambitious three year plan.”
Visit the Mobile Advice Van for support
During the 16 Days of Activism awareness campaign, residents are also invited to visit the Citizens Advice Wokingham Mobile Advice Unit van that will be touring Wokingham Borough. The specially adapted van is designed to help Citizens Advice provide free, confidential and impartial advice and information directly to the communities across Wokingham Borough with ease.
Citizens Advice will be working with charities and helping with issues surrounding domestic abuse and gender-based violence. No appointments needed, residents can simply turn up on the day. The van will be meeting residents across the borough on the following dates:
26 November, 10am to 12pm, Swallowfield Medical Centre
26 November, 12.30pm to 3.30pm, Share Wokingham, Norreys Church
29 November, 10am to 12pm, Twyford Waitrose
29 November, 2pm to 4pm, Parish Council Car Park, Pound Lane
1 December, 10am to 12pm, Arborfield Green Community Centre
1 December, 2pm to 4pm, Morrisons Woosehill
3 December, 2pm to 4pm, Gorse Ride Estate Community House
6 December, 10am to 12pm, Shinfield Community Centre
Training events happening during the next month include a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Conference, hosted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Thames and Chiltern. This will focus on how it has continued to deliver domestic services during the Covid-19 pandemic, survivors’ journeys through the criminal justice process, domestic abuse support for victims and survivors, how specialist domestic abuse courts support victims to give their best evidence, and steps on how to work together to deliver justice.
The council is also hosting two training events for staff and partner agencies. The first focuses on understanding and responding to black and minoritised ethnic communities experiencing domestic abuse. This is one of a series of training sessions to help those working in Wokingham borough understand more about some of the barriers people can face in accessing help and support. Children’s services colleagues, supported by domestic abuse charity, Kaleidoscopic UK, will also attend training on practical safety planning, in responding to families experiencing domestic abuse.
Help and support
There is lots of help and support available if you are experiencing domestic abuse or know someone who is:
The Wokingham Domestic Abuse Service for victims / survivors, children and young people and perpetrator support: Contact via the website, or call 0118 950 4003 (calls answered 9am – 5pm week days with an out of hours emergency service in place)
SupportU local LGBT+ domestic abuse support: Contact via the website, or call 0118 321 9111 (10am – 7pm, Monday to Friday)
Kaleidoscopic UK, a local peer support service for adults and children: Contact via the website
National Domestic Abuse Helpline (female victims): 0800 2000 247 (24 hours)
Mankind Initiative (male victims): 01823 334244
Male Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
National LGBT+ domestic abuse helpline: 0800 999 5428
Respect phone line (those worried about their behaviour): 0808 802 4040
Tulips radio drama: available to watch on Youtube, Soundcloud and all major Podcasting platforms
IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 999