Mayor invests £3 million in new services to provide targeted support for victims of violence against women and girls

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced investment of £3 million in 42 small grassroots organisations to deliver support for women and girls who have been the victims of violence in the capital.

The new investment will fund helplines, enable victims to access legal support, offer access to counselling, and provide vulnerable victims with phones, travel cards and vital food and medical supplies. Such specialist and small organisations are often the first and sometimes only support for victims of violence against women and girls from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The funding is part of a record £60.7m investment by City Hall under Sadiq’s Mayoralty tackling all violence against women and girls, which is already working to save lives, reduce waiting lists and keep doors open for vital specialist support services for victims.

Over the last week, there has been an outpouring of grief and anger from women in London and across the country over Sarah Everard’s tragic death and the daily reality of male violence against women and girls.

Sadiq is determined to build on City Hall’s record investment and his violence against women and girls strategy, to target offenders and change men’s behaviour, and provide support for women.

His latest funding will support vital grassroots services in the capital, such as the Asian Women’s Resource Centre, the Women’s Association for Networking and Development, Sister System, the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation, and the East European Resource Centre. This will enable these organisations to provide legal and mental health support as well as vital supplies for vulnerable victims.

In 2018 London’s Rape Crisis Centres were forced to close their waiting lists due years of underfunding from the Government. The Mayor stepped in and provided emergency investment to ensure they were able to keep their doors open and provide support to an additional 700 victims.

City Hall investment has also helped reduce Rape Crisis Centres waiting times, which are now a few weeks to six months, compared to the previous waiting times of nine months to a year, for victims to access the tailored support they need. Last year, City Hall-funded London Survivors Gateway, which offers victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse help to access specialist services in London, was able to support more than 1,600 victims.

The Mayor has been clear that the focus must also be on tackling and addressing male violence towards women. Since 2016, Sadiq has invested £2.5m in innovative programmes to address the behaviour of perpetrators of abuse. Earlier this month, he launched the first-ever UK pilot programme to tag perpetrators of domestic abuse with GPS tracking devices upon release from prison. City Hall has also invested  in London’s Stalking Threat Assessment Centre, a specialist unit which brings together the police, probation services and the Crown Prosecution Service to tackling stalking by addressing the perpetrator’s behaviour and working to reduce repeat offending.

Today, the Mayor is calling on the Government to keep vital amends in the Domestic Abuse Bill, so that all victims of violence against women and girls are protected in law. Sadiq is calling for Ministers to keep in the amendment that introduces a firewall to prevent the sharing of victims’ and witnesses’ information with immigration services to ensure migrant women and their children are also protected under this important legislation.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “From prevention to bringing perpetrators to justice, I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure dangerous offenders are dealt with and male behaviour towards women changes, and I will continue to do my utmost to ensure victims and survivors get access to the support they need.

“That’s why I have provided record investment to support victims of violence and abuse, to remove the threat of dangerous individuals in our communities, and to tackle the misogynistic attitudes that allow certain crimes to continue. My new £3m funding will help victims to access specialist support in their community.

“We have to root out the abhorrent behaviours that allow violence towards women and girls to continue, and victims must feel able to report abuse and trust that the criminal justice system will help them get justice. However, the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill risks letting down some of the most vulnerable and marginalised victims of violence against women and girls. The fear of immigration enforcement is preventing victims of extremely serious crimes, such as rape and domestic violence, from reporting crimes securely or acting as witnesses. The House of Lords made it clear on Monday that this Bill must be updated to ensure migrant women are not deterred from reporting domestic abuse due to the fear of deportation. I am calling on Ministers to keep this vital amendment in the Bill so that migrant victims know that when the report abuse that they will be treated as victims first and foremost.”

Gladys Jusu-Sheriff, Director, Women’s Association for Networking and Development (WAND), said: “The funding process was very helpful and for small organisations, it wasn’t intimidating. It felt that small organisations were being recognised, made visible and helped. The funding will help us work with local authorities and community stakeholders – women will have a voice, so that they feel more empowered to talk about domestic violence and will not suffer in silence.”

Queen Ekuerhare, Chair, Flashy Wings Ministry, said: “I found the funding process straightforward. I liked the fact that I was asked for further information about my organisation and project during the assessment. The engagement went beyond the written application form. This was a beautiful thing as I felt I was able to articulate myself more clearly. I hope other funders replicate this process. The funding will be used to support women affected by domestic violence. During the pandemic, we realised that women – especially women from African backgrounds – were dealing with complex domestic violence issues. We want to address religious, cultural and immigration issues and how this affects women’s lives. We intend to run workshops and digital training and we aim to reach 500 women with our services.”