A quarter of women and one in six men in Rotherham will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. “It’s high, isn’t it?” Sue Wynne, CEO, said.
“Over the years my passion and determination has only grown; we need to empower survivors to help overcome the trauma they’ve experienced.”
Services include practical and therapeutic support for over 2,000 people a year, as well as a range of refuge options.
When Covid hit and a stay home order given to the nation, Sue knew they would have to act rapidly.
“Covid had an enormous impact for many in abusive relationships. In normal times, they would potentially have access to other friends or family as a support network. This enforced isolation made the barriers to seek support more difficult to overcome.”
A quarter of women and one in six men in Rotherham will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime
“There was a need to reassure people that we were here regardless of lockdown.”
In spring 2019, a £300,000 Key Fund loan helped Rotherham Rise buy the building it rented. In October, it completed the purchase. At a time of huge national instability with the pandemic, the building provided stability.
Rotherham Rise receives rent from tenants, providing a new income stream. It created its own community café in the building, which closed during restrictions.
The team innovated to online trading, putting together well-being boxes. Sue plans to reinvigorate the online shop in the future to complement the café.
They saw a rise over the year of up to 20% in numbers seeking support. A small organisation, they could make quick decisions in real-time to meet demand.
They came up with a blended solution of remote work and on-site support for the accommodation service, with appropriate risk assessments. They mobilised phone lines, webchats, and virtual group support sessions.
“We delivered posters and information leaflets to supermarkets, vaccination testing sites and cards to households, so people knew they were not alone and support was out there, refuge included.”
The team accessed emergency funding to create additional services to increase refuge provision by another eight houses.
A third of Rotherham lives in the top 20% most deprived areas across England.
Covid has made inequalities more acute. “We have people who say that without our support, they don’t think that they’d still be here.”
Rotherham Rise will be even more critical in the future.
“We’ve seen an increase in people using foodbanks. There’s no doubt that choices are already limited for people in domestic abuse; for many, financial stability is a barrier to leaving.”
Sue is standing ready. “We’ll be in a stronger position, owning the property; it will enable us to develop as the years go on.”