Funding agreed to save vital service

A service supporting vulnerable victims of domestic violence has been given a stay of execution.

Users and supporters of Cease 24, which provides an Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVA) service, had expressed concern after it was revealed the Morpeth-based scheme would close at the end of August due to a lack of funding.

But following talks between Northumberland County Council and Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, the council has agreed to continue to fund the service until next April to allow for a longer term strategy to be put together.

Council leader Grant Davey said: “We were well aware of the potential impacts of this support not continuing.

“We had no wish to lose this service and are well aware of our increasing priorities around tackling domestic violence and supporting victims.

“We are under extreme pressure from government cuts and £230,000 a year is a significant sum of money.

“However, having looked at all options and reviewed our budgets, it has been decided that the council will, in addition to our original commitment to Cease 24, provide additional funding this year, and we hope that a more long-term sustainable solution can be developed with partners over the coming months.”

Mrs Baird said: “I’m delighted that the council has found itself able to fund the IDVA service in Northumberland so that there will be an IDVA service in every local authority in Northumbria in 2014-15.”

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith, who had campaigned for the service to stay open, said: “I am delighted the local authority has agreed to fund the service until April 2015, which will support high-risk adults and their children who are caught up in domestic violence.

“I have been putting pressure on Northumberland County Council and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner to find the relatively small amount of funding which would be needed to maintain the service until the end of March. This would allow time to bid for future funds.”

Johanna Parks, divisional manager for Victim Support in Northumbria, said: “The extension of funding for the Cease 24 service is a big relief for us and for all the people using the service who are affected by domestic violence.

“We will continue to work closely with the local authority and other partners seek to secure longer term funding for the Cease 24 service.

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage for crime victims to ask for help.

“It’s crucial that there is specialist support available in the county to help these families come to terms with what’s happened and move forward with their lives. They have told us that the practical and emotional support we give them through Cease24 is an essential lifeline.”

Cease 24 offers victims support and advice, and has been part-funded by the council in the past, along with other partner organisations.

The service helps the most high risk families and also employs a worker to support children living in violent relationships.