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Domestic Abuse and Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2021-2026 approved by Mayor and Cabinet

Last night, Mayor and Cabinet approved the Domestic Abuse and Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2021-2026. This sets out our action plan for the next five years to tackle violence against women and girls and make our communities safer.

Domestic abuse and violence against women and girls (VAWG) can take many forms and have long-lasting traumatic effects, including on children who are exposed to it. This strategy recognises that tackling the impacts and incidents of VAWG requires a holistic and multi-agency approach.

In Lewisham we are privileged to have strong partnerships with key stakeholders and organisations across the borough with whom we can work to bring about an end to VAWG.
Our new five year strategy will build on these partnerships to provide a more co-ordinated and strategic response. We will develop our experience of what works in tackling domestic abuse and VAWG, and we will continue to ensure our work is evidence-based and meaningful.

The strategy has been shaped through interviews, workshops and consultations with domestic abuse survivors living in Lewisham, local professionals, and residents. This has led us to create five key priorities to combat VAWG:

  • Prevent: preventing violence and abuse through early intervention and education.
  • Protect: providing support that keeps individuals and their families safe from harm.
  • Recover: providing longer-term support to enable recovery following abuse.
  • Pursue: holding perpetrators to account whilst providing opportunity for change and support.
  • Partnership: Working in partnership across agencies and with the community, to ensure our response to abuse is integrated, innovative and inclusive.

Read the Domestic Abuse and Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2021-2026.

Cllr Brenda Dacres, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Safer Communities said:

“Ending violence against women and girls and ensuring women feel – and are - safe should be a priority for everyone, and needs a co-ordinated and effective response from local councils, police, communities and central government.

“Our new Domestic Abuse and VAWG Strategy sets out the Council’s commitment to taking action and putting policies in place to help end violence in our borough and beyond. This strategy by no means sets out everything we - and our partners – are doing, but it brings together the tangible actions we are taking in a report that will allow us to measure our performance in this critical area of work.

“We also commission the Athena service to provide confidential, non-judgemental support to those living in Lewisham who are experiencing any form of gender-based violence. The Athena service, run by Refuge, provides outreach programmes, independent advocacy, group support, a specialist service for young women, and refuge accommodation.

“We have all seen the faces of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa in the media. Two brutal and tragic murders of women in London this year. But the appalling truth is that, only since March, there have been at least eighty more violent killings of women like Sarah and Sabina.

“Senseless, violent and frightening murders of women who were doing nothing more than going to see a friend or going home. The randomness of these attacks is terrifying, it could be any one of us and we all feel jolted, reminded of our own regular routines and decisions in our daily lives. Strategies alone won’t stop violence against women and girls but action is needed now.

“This week I joined 250 women councillors and assembly members across London in writing to the Met Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, calling for immediate action to end violence against women and girls, with ten actions. This needs to be a priority for policing across the whole country to ensure that women everywhere feel protected.”

Mayor Damien Egan said:

“Sadly, the timing of this strategy could not be more apt as, almost three weeks ago, we learnt about the death of Sabina Nessa, a teacher at a primary school here in Lewisham. I know that many women and girls will be feeling anxious, scared and angry following these tragic events – I am angry too. Women and girls have a right to not be afraid and to be able to go about their daily lives without the fear of violence and harassment, and as a Council we will do everything we can to make sure women and girls feel safe - and are safe - in Lewisham. We are determined to reduce violence against women and girls and our five year Domestic Abuse and VAWG Strategy will bring partners together to drive real, lasting change.”

Help and support for people experiencing or at risk of abuse

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you are unable to talk, call 999 and press 55. This will transfer you to a police officer who will help you without you having to speak.

Athena is a confidential, non-judgemental service to support those living in Lewisham who are experiencing gender-based violence. The service provides outreach programmes, independent advocacy, group support, refuge accommodation and a specialist service for young women. Visit Athena's website.

If you are in Lewisham, you can call the Athena Service for free on 0800 112 4052 or email lewishamvawg@refuge.org.uk

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is a team of highly-trained female advisers who can empower you to understand your options and support you to make any decisions about the future. They offer support to increase your safety, including finding a refuge place or other specialist services. Visit the National Domestic Abuse Helpline's website.

Women’s Aid has created resources specifically for those experiencing domestic abuse during Covid-19, including a live chat service. Visit the Women's Aid website.

From 25 November, we will be marking White Ribbon Day for 16 days to acknowledge the different forms of violence and the range of people who may be victims. Although the statistics indicate that women are two times more likely to experience domestic abuse than men, we recognise that men and boys can also be victims of gender-based violence whether it be committed by another man or by a woman.

Other sources for support include The Men’s Advice Line, a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse, and Galop, a specialist helpline for LGBTQ+ people.

Visit The Men's Advice Line website

Visit Galop's website.

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