06:16PM, Wednesday 14 July 2021
A domestic abuse charity may have to ‘close it’s doors’ following an enormous increase in referrals and a lack of funding.
The chief executive of DASH (Domestic Abuse Stops Here) told the health and wellbeing board that adult referrals have doubled and child referrals have trebled during the pandemic.
Alison Bourne said: “The pandemic has increased our workload exponentially.
“I know you won’t be surprised for me to highlight funding as an enormous issue for us. Funding has stayed the same from the Royal Borough for the last three years so we work really hard to close the gap.
“I have to say for the first time this week management have talked about having to close our doors because we just can’t manage the workload we’ve got.”
She said the charity gave up its offices in Slough during the pandemic due to the costs which has now gone towards an additional frontline worker but now the charity has ‘nowhere to return to’.
She said the team have worked online for the last 18 months which has had an ‘enormous impact on our wellbeing’.
“We are usually so proud of our retention figures, but just in the last few weeks we’ve started to worry about retention of staff,” she added.
The charity is now looking for free or low cost meeting spaces and are in discussion with Maidenhead Library and a number of network groups.
Alison added there is a waiting list for children and the charity is ‘constantly looking for funding’.
She said: “Funding pots are getting fewer and there are more people after them.”
Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill) cabinet member for adult social care, children’s services and mental health praised the charity and its team for the work they have been doing and said they would assist it finding an office space.
Kevin McDaniel, director of services at the council said he could echo three of those things as identical issues for the statutory children’s workforce.
He said: “The level of cases involving domestic abuse are the main driver of pressure on all of our services, as social workers and family support and early work. We know the work you and your colleagues do is essential in support us.
“My heart goes out to your staff who are working their socks off the same as council staff are in trying to keep up with the level of demand.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Carroll said the he would be raising the issue with the Government and the council would continue to work with DASH to offer support.
Visit www.thedashcharity.org.uk/donate/ to donate toward the charity.
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