A new scheme is being started to help young women in West Lancashire avoid being victims of domestic abuse.
The West Lancashire Safe Teens Project will aim to ensure girls and young women from age 13 are supported and given the skills to deal with issues including domestic abuse, sexual harassment, child sexual exploitation, and social media abuses such as cyber bullying, grooming or revenge porn.
West Lancashire Borough Council, the Liberty Centre and West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) worked together on a successful application for £160,089 to the Home Office and the money will fund the project for three years. The West Lancashire scheme was one of only 17 projects nationwide awarded money by the Home Office in this round of funding.
A Safe Teens Development Worker at the Liberty Centre will deliver the project on behalf of the West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership (WLCSP).
Other aims include building resilience and confidence in teenage girls to promote an understanding of healthy relationships and consent. Another priority will be to increase awareness of domestic abuse issues through a bystanders’ network. This will include parents, teachers and health service workers, so communities can share a collective understanding and have the means to intervene safely and effectively.
Mike Maguire, chief officer at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “The West Lancashire Safe Teens Project is vital, as it helps to empower girls and young women to understand what is and isn’t a healthy relationship and arm them with the skills to deal with situations that they may find themselves in.
“The project doesn’t stop there, it will also look to raise greater awareness across our whole population of the signs of domestic abuse to look out for, so that we can all help to tackle this issue.
“This project is a great example of key partners in West Lancashire, coming together to tackle such a sensitive and important issue and I’ll look forward to seeing it grow from strength to strength over the next three years.”
In a separate boost to its funding, the Liberty Centre will also get a £97,310 share of further government funding of £1.3 million for refuge provision and support to victims of domestic abuse across Lancashire. West Lancashire Borough Council, along with other district councils across the county, assisted the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Lancashire County Council with the successful bid.
This money will provide, on a fixed term basis, three additional posts to help women needing support to remain safely in their homes or access accommodation away from the refuge through the provision of a Sanctuary Scheme. A Complex Needs Support Worker will support victims accessing this. A Domestic Abuse Development Worker will help victims access training and support them into employment. A Family Support Worker will ensure high-level therapeutic needs among the wider family are addressed, and help reduce the risk of the children becoming future victims.
Gwen Bleasdale, acting Liberty Centre CEO, said: “Domestic abuse ruins lives with many victims forced to leave their homes for their own safety to access the services they urgently need. The impact spreads across other family members and can seriously affect children.
“We are very grateful to the Borough and County Councils and all the other organisations who helped obtain this funding. One lot of money will help people who have suffered domestic abuse regain control of their lives and the other will help younger women avoid becoming victims.”
David Tilleray, Chairman of West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership said: “The Liberty Centre provides much needed support to women and their families experiencing domestic abuse and the extra funding will help increase the great work it does. The WLCSP will ensure the ‘Safe Teens’ project has access to an established support network to help identify young people who are ‘at risk’ that require support and guidance.
Councillor Kevin Wright, West Lancashire Borough Council portfolio holder for Health and Wellbeing, said: “I am thrilled the Borough Council was involved and was able to help secure this funding for the Liberty Centre. Working to bring funding from many sources into the borough for the benefit of local people helps to show what great value for money West Lancashire Borough Council provides.”