In November, 2014, the Commissioner launched a new fund to support the development of victims’ services and deliver restorative justice schemes across Merseyside.
Victims’ charities, voluntary organisations and service providers were invited to apply for one-off grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 and the bids were assessed to see which would provide the best support for victims.
A total of £270,00 was made available to provide additional support services to help victims cope and recover, and expand and improve restorative justice initiatives in the region.
The grants were announced following the decision by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to expand the remit of PCC's to include the commissioning of victim support services and were designed to a view to the shift in commissioning responsibilities that had been announced for 2015/16.
In January, 2015, the Commissioner announced a total of 19 Merseyside-based organisations and charities would share the victims' services fund, totalling more than £270,000, to improve the care for victims of serious and damaging crime in the region.
A total of 49 organisations had applied for the Commissioner’s grants, with requests for funding totalling more than £965,000. The bids were then shortlisted by the Community Foundation for Merseyside against three criteria – their ability to identify the most vulnerable victims, the way in which they would help them to cope and recover and how they would spend the funding.
The shortlisted companies were then assessed by the Commissioner’s team against further quality criteria, including their innovation and specialist approach, how they would deliver the project, equality issues and their plan for measuring their success. Funding was focused on victims identified by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in the Victims’ Code as “priority victims”.
All the money was designed to be used to focus on work to support the most seriously affected, vulnerable and persistently targeted victims of crime, including victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE), domestic violence and sexual violence.
Read the full announcement
View the full list of successful organisations.
Below are just a few examples of the important work carried out by the organisations being supported through this fund.
Women Enterprising Breakthrough
Wendy* has a long history of poor mental health and was almost 50 before she was diagnosed with a serious personality and mental health disorder and given the treatment and care she so desperately needed. Wendy had experienced sexual abuse as a child and a number of relationships as an adult where she was subjected to domestic violence.
The lack of diagnosis and subsequent lack of support had resulted in a number of suicide attempts by Wendy over the years and being sectioned several times leading to lengthy stays on psychiatric wards.
During the period she was undiagnosed, Wendy was unable to hold down a job due to her unpredictable and fluctuating mental health and committed and was subsequently prosecuted for benefit fraud. She had become virtually housebound and dependent on alcohol.
Wendy was referred to WEB four years ago, but her confidence and self-esteem was so low she was unwilling to engage in any services apart from the occasional one-to-one support appointment when she was feeling particularly low.
After three years of working intensively on a one to one basis, Wendy finally felt confident enough to progress to group activities. She was better able to manage her emotions and anger and her communication had improved and this was contributing to an improvement in her family life and her own self-worth.
She began attending drop-in and personal development workshops and she became a huge asset to the groups. As her confidence grew, an infectious energy, sense of fun, brilliant sense of humour and natural empathy with the other women emerged and staff recognised that Wendy had a natural capacity for supporting other women.
Last year, to her shock and delight, Wendy was invited to attend last year’s round of volunteer training to develop these skills. She is now looking forward to joining the volunteer team and accessing further training opportunities with a view to gaining paid employment in the future.
Wirral charity WEB’s Centre Manager Bernadette King said “Women’s Enterprising Breakthrough (WEB) is absolutely delighted to have been successful with our bid to the Victims Services and Restorative Justice Fund.
“We are a ‘user-led service charity and social enterprise who has been serving vulnerable adults and children for over 23 years. This year we will be celebrating our 20th Birthday as a registered charity and what great news to help us celebrate.
“The impact of WEB receiving this funding means that we will be able to continue to deliver a diverse range of health and well-being activities that will support victims and survivors to not only heal and recover, but to increase and develop coping techniques and networks of support that will enrich their lives.
“The team at WEB are absolutely delighted with this news, this funding will not only support sustainability of services for vulnerable individuals, but enable us to provide services across Merseyside to enable us to reach even more vulnerable adults and children via our satellite deliveries.”
South Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service (SLDAS)
SLDAS will be using the funding to provide a new early intervention and prevention service aimed at young people aged between 14-19 years old. The programme is for any young person that has witnessed domestic abuse at home or is either in an abusive relationship or is at risk of being in one. It can also be used as information only educational/awareness raising tool to any young people in schools, youth centres or other venues.
The pilot programme will consist of six sessions which will focus on issues related to domestic abuse that can affect young people. SLDAS has been developing its services for young people over the years and has so far been able to facilitate one off group awareness sessions to young people across South Liverpool and South Central Liverpool.
With this new funding SLDAS will now be able to work with those young people who have been most affected by domestic abuse over a longer period of time, providing a safe place for them to explore their feelings, tell their story and get support.
South Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service’s Senior Manager Paula Smith said: “I am delighted to learn that SLDAS has been successful in securing funding from the PCC to pilot a young person’s programme across South Liverpool.
“This will give the young people who attend an opportunity to access specific support and information designed with them in mind. In doing so this will allow SLDAS to develop the services aimed at young people as research informs that they are one of the most at risk groups for suffering domestic abuse in all its forms.
“We want to build on this pilot and this funding will be the beginning of the creation of a sustainable support tool for young people and their peers.
Bianca is 14-years-old. She was referred to Catch22’s Merton Substance Misuse Support service because her school had identified excessive drinking levels and cannabis use. She self-harmed, expressed suicidal tendencies and put herself at considerable risk of sexual exploitation whilst under the influence of substances.
Upon referral, workers completed a holistic assessment, and created a care plan in conjunction with Bianca, outlining the aims and outcomes of the treatment she was to receive. Bianca underwent targeted tier 2 and 3 interventions. Catch22’s treatment focused on raising awareness of the links with substance misuse and sexual exploitation and building up her confidence for the future.
Catch22 worked with Bianca, educating her on the risks involved with substance misuse, and also supported her mother in dealing with Bianca’s behaviour, providing information on how a parent’s own alcohol consumption can affect their children. Catch22 worked with various partner agencies to reduce the risk of sexual exploitation and provide mental health counselling, due to suicidal tendencies that Bianca had expressed.
As the intervention progressed, Bianca’s school and family noted a marked reduction in Bianca’s alcohol and cannabis use. By the time Bianca’s intervention was complete, she reported no alcohol or cannabis use, and her school attendance was recorded at 100%. Her self-harming had ceased and she said that she deeply regretted contemplating suicide, and no longer thought this way. She successfully engaged with a sexual exploitation service, and was no longer putting herself in risky situations with older boys.
Sefton CSE charity Catch 22’s Service Manager Mark Woodbridge said: ‘’We’re grateful to have been awarded this money, which will enable us to provide lasting support to young people who’ve been affected by sexual exploitation within Sefton.
“Catch22 is a recognised as a leading provider of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) across the UK and as a result of our long standing work in various local authorities we have developed extensive knowledge and a high-quality skills base amongst our staff. Building upon the success of our services across Cheshire and Merseyside, this fund will help us further raise awareness of CSE and identify and protect victims. Catch22 looks forward to working closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office to identify CSE perpetrators and to provide high level support to victims across Sefton.’’
Matt*, 15, lived with both his parents in Merseyside until his dad’s mental health deteriorated and a domestic incident in the home led to his mum taking him and his brother away. Matt’s dad later died after taking his own life.
Matt’s mum referred him and his brother to Listening Ear’s Butterflies Project. The social enterprise used talking therapy and activity based therapies to help Matt come to terms with the sudden death of his dad. It was clear Matt had a lot of anger towards his dad, but was bottling up his emotions and becoming very anxious about exams. He was finding it difficult to sleep and was becoming stressed about an important music audition.
After being supported by Listening Ear, Matt passed his exams and music audition and described the service as “fantastic”, saying it had helped him to talk about his problems. He is now doing better at school and hopes to become a solicitor to help families understand about sudden death. Without Listening Ear’s help, Matt may have becoming increasing isolated and depressed and failed to follow his musical and educational aspirations.
Listening Ear’s Chief Executive Richard Brown said: “Listening Ear are delighted to be able to engage with the Merseyside Police Crime Commissioner team in delivering our unique domestic abuse services across St Helens.
“The children and young people’s service at Listening Ear have developed a number of tools and a superb range of therapeutic interventions, which enable people affected by domestic abuse, to be able to move forward through what is a very traumatic period of their lives. We are very excited at being offered this opportunity to expand the reach of these vital services”
* Names have been changed to protect identities
Through this fund grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 were available for services that could meet the specific criteria and outcomes as detailed in the fund guidelines below.
The fund was administered by the Community Foundation for Merseyside.
The grants were focussed on capacity building and development of victims' support and/or Restorative Justice provision to 31st March 2015.
To qualify, organisations had to be able to clearly evaluate the funding to demonstrate the impact of the grant, service delivery and beneficiaries.
Fund background and full criteria;