Home-Start seeks to help Uckfield domestic abuse survivors

Home-Start East Sussex is hoping to run an Uckfield-based course to help domestic abuse victims/survivors.

The Newhaven Enterprise Centre-based charity said the course would offer a “strengths-based approach” to the nationally acclaimed Freedom Programme.

“We would like to offer support, information and a safe space to women living in Uckfield who have experience of living with domestic abuse,” the charity stated in an application for grant funding to Uckfield Town Council.

Abuser

It continued:

“The course will examine the actions, behaviour and beliefs of an abuser and the beliefs and responses of the victim/survivor.

“It will attempt to unravel the confusion that a survivor feels and help them identify and understand how domestic abuse has affected them as an individual, and their children.

“The course will also help women to draw on and recognise their own strengths and community support.

“It will be delivered with the knowledge that victim-survivors are the experts in their own lives and are not passive, as in our experience all victims of violence resist violence in their own way.”

Measures of Home-Start success

Home-Start East Sussex there would be “measurable outcomes” which were that victim-survivors will:

have a better understanding of the different tactics and behaviour used by domestic abusers; and

• recognise and feel empowered by the strength they have shown in resisting abuse in order to keep their own dignity and character whilst being mistreated and degraded, however subtle that resistance may have been.

They will also:

• understand that perpetrators will do all they can to stop resistance and ultimately only perpetrators can ensure victim-survivors’ safety;

• have a better understanding of how domestic abuse affects children (short-term and long-term), even if they are not physically hurt, or in the same room when it happens.  It also details how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed

• have a better idea about the types of positive behaviour they can expect from ‘Mr Right’ (and what he can expect from her) when in a healthy relationship;

• be better able to recognise the early warning signs of domestic abuse;

• feel less isolated due to meeting other women who have shared similar experiences; and

• feel more confident to have a future free from domestic abuse

A testimonial offered as part of the application said:

“My expectations were more than met.  I have had interventions and domestic violence work done in the past but nothing has compared to the intervention and help received on this course.”

Uckfield Town Council General Purposes Committee

Uckfield Town Council considers grant applications in the early autumn. A finance sub-committee is held to determine the distribution of money in the next financial year.

Its recommendations are then approved by the general purposes committee.

This year the finance sub-committee recommendations were accepted by the full committee on October 1.

Administrative

Unfortunately, the emailed application from Home-Start East Sussex, which was received by the town council on August 3, well before the end-of-month deadline, was missed within the town council’s administrative email account and the application did not go before the finance sub-committee on September 12.

As a result it was put before last night’s (November 5) meeting of the council’s general purposes committee.

Members felt unable to make a decision and have sent the matter to the next full meeting of Uckfield Town Council.

‘Mistakes happen’

Committee vice-chairman, Cllr Paul Sparks, said it was a difficult situation saying “mistakes happen and we don’t want to dwell over that” but did say some system should be implemented to ensure the situation did not reoccur.

The problem that councillors faced was that all but £469 of the grants money had been allocated and funding decisions could not be undone.

Later in the meeting Cllr Sparks queried the cost of the course. “How is this 11-week course run? Is it just one day a week or is it three or four days a week because it does seem to be quite expensive, £5,498 to run an 11-week course, one day a week, if that is what they are going to do?”

Aspirations

Cllr Paul Meakin said he felt the council should go some way to meeting the aspirations of Home-Start but not for the full amount sought.

He said it looked as if the charity had been “caught rather short by our friends at Lewes [East Sussex County Council] taking 140 grand of their budget in one go, so they are left with a major problem”.

Cllr Chris Macve pointed out the accounts presented by the charity had more than £123,000 sitting in the bank and said other applicants at the finance sub-committee were questioned about “huge bank balances and they are still asking for grants”.

He went on: “We are working on a very, very limited budget, very tight finances and it is wrong that these organisations sit on huge balances.

“They should use them for the purposes for which the organisation was set up.”

Councillors want to know if the scheme would go ahead, even if the full amount was not paid and what would happen to any lesser grant paid by the town council.

Committee chairman, Cllr Diane Ward, who sits on the grants allocation sub-committee, said the amount sought by Home-Start was above what they would have been allocated, if the application had gone to the meeting,

“There is no way we would have given them the full £5,000 because we have to share it among everyone,” she said.

She was worried about finding the money in next year’s budget, if the full council agreed to a large sum.

“This is my mantra: Uckfield Town Council is not the bank of Uckfield,” she said.

See also:

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