A Duty to Support: ‘Postcode lottery’ of support for Children and Young People experiencing violence and abuse in Wales leads to calls for an urgent review.
‘Postcode lottery’ of support for Children and Young People experiencing violence and abuse in Wales leads to calls for an urgent review
A new report launched today (27.06.22) has identified a lack of consistency across local authorities, local health boards and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to support children and young people (CYP) experiencing violence and abuse.
A Duty to Support, commissioned by Joyce Watson MS, identified a ‘postcode lottery’ across local authorities around how funding is categorised and spent on Children and Young People Services, leading to some children and young people in Wales reporting a significant impact on their ability to recover from abuse.
The report calls for an enquiry into the adequate commissioning and provision of specialist services for children and young people affected by violence against women, domestic abuse, and sexual violence (VAWDASV) across Wales.
The report found that only three out of 20 local authorities in Wales that responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request have a designated Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee to examine the need for specialist support to children and young people.
Despite roughly one in five children being exposed to domestic abuse, only a small percentage of people supported by VAWDASV Services are children and young people, showing an urgent need for increased, dedicated funding for CYP workers.
Joyce Watson MS, said:
“Domestic violence does not just affect the adults involved. The legislation in England and Wales recognises that children are victims in their own rights. Without early support this can lead to a lifetime of adverse impacts, with the cycle of abuse potentially being passed down through generations.
“With around 20 per cent of children witnessing abuse, there is an urgent need for tailored support for them. This support should be high quality, needs-led and trauma-informed, and the same standard and provision of specialist services for children and young people should be accessible to all that need it.
“I commissioned Welsh Women’s Aid to do this research in order to check where we are and to ensure that plans are put in place to meet this need throughout Wales.
“Whilst this report shows there are pockets of good practice across Wales and a strong desire from specialist VAWDASV services as well as Welsh Government to provide this support, we also see opportunities to strengthen provision and to listen to the needs of children and young people across Wales.”
The report also found that, whilst Commissioning Hubs and Regional Commissioning Boards appear to be having a positive impact on improving support, there is an inconsistency across local authorities in the level of emphasis given to children and young people within VAWDASV strategies and provision. Some local authorities do not directly commission services for children and young people, instead these services are provided by existing specialist services.
Other recommendations made in the report, include addressing the shortfall in service provision for children through the sustainable funding and that all future well-being strategies and regional strategies must provide specialist services for children and young people.
Sara Kirkpatrick, Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid, said:
“All too often, children and young people’s experiences of violence and abuse are not meaningfully centred within conversations, strategies, and funding for VAWDASV provision.
“To truly create a societal and cultural change that lasts and eliminate violence and abuse, this must be prioritised. We need to ensure that all children and young people experiencing VAWDASV can access the safety and support needed to recover from their experiences and lead lives where they thrive, regardless of where in Wales they live.
“Support should be delivered by skilled professionals who have the experience and necessary resources to offer a range of trauma informed specialist support to children and reflects their diverse spectrum of needs.”
Vivienne Laing, NSPCC Cymru/ Wales Policy and Public Affairs Manager said:
“We know that one in five children across the UK is exposed to domestic abuse and, worryingly, calls to our helplines about this issue increased during lockdown.
“Children, who experience domestic abuse in their home, feel scared and anxious in a place that should be their sanctuary from the outside world. They often feel guilty and try to protect the non-abusing family members.
“We want all child victims, wherever they live in Wales, to receive the specialist support they need to overcome the trauma and go on to lead healthy relationships themselves.”
The recommendations from this report have been shared with Welsh Government, local authorities, health boards and Police and Crime Commissioners throughout Wales.
For further information, for access to the full report, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Welsh Women’s Aid
Charlotte Archibald, Communications and Campaigns Manager
029 2054 1551 / [email protected]
Sophie Weeks, Head of Public Affairs and Communications
07544 300983/ [email protected]
Michael McGivern, Senior Media Officer
020 377 29080/ [email protected]
Anyone in Wales who is experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence and other forms of violence against women or is concerned about someone else can contact the 24-hour Live Fear Free Helpline (phone: 0808 80 10 800, webchat: https://gov.wales/live-fear-free, text: 078600 77 333, email: [email protected]) for confidential help and support.
The NSPCC Helpline is staffed by trained professionals who can provide expert advice and support. We’re here if you’re concerned about a child, if you’re a parent or carer looking for advice, or if you’re a professional in need of information and guidance. Call 0808 800 5000
Due to an increase in demand across our service, our voice Helpline is currently operating between the hours of 11am and 2pm Monday to Friday. However, you can contact us outside these hours by email at [email protected]. It’s free and you don’t have to say who you are. If you think a child is at immediate risk of harm, please call the police on 999.