An LGBT Charity aimed at supporting those who have suffered Domestic Violence (DV) has announced that it could face closure after no confirmation from the Home Office whether funding will be extended for another year.
Broken Rainbow, the UK’s largest charity supporting men and women who have experience domestic violence is facing having its helpline closed after failing to obtain clarification on whether the home office will extend its funding for another year. The charity was set up in 2004 and last year supported over 5000 victims of violence from their partners.
The news comes as a raft of other mainline LGBT charities and services face devastating cuts, including Terrence Higgins Trust, GMFA and the London And Lesbian Gay Switchboard.
“For our funding not to be renewed or replaced will result in the helpline being closed down.” reported Wendy Wilde, the Service Delivery Manager “we’ve supported over five thousand people this year and if we were to close there are very few other services for them to go to and not one that offers national support in the way we do.”
The charity, which has helped countless of people, says that the current funding only pays for one helpline worker at a time – and callers are often met with an engaged tone. The service is comparatively expensive, because the nature of the service, however its benefits have been felt far and wide – having worked closely with the producers and writers of EastEnders during their same-sex domestic violence storyline in 2014.
In May last year it emerged that members of the LGBT community are more than twice as likely to have experienced domestic abuse in the past year compared to those in heterosexual relationships, and almost half of victims say that they didn’t know where to turn for support.
“Government cuts on dv services have a huge part to play.” explains Jo Harvey Barringer, Broken Rainbow’s Managing Director “our service is comparatively expensive to run as our calls can take a long time due to us offering case work rather than simply a signposting service. Currently almost as many calls meet an engaged tone as a helpline worker because we only have enough funding for one person to answer calls at any time. Often callers are disclosing their abuse for the first time and the reality is that there is often nowhere to signpost people to. Decisions like the one to close the men’s refuge by Hammersmith & Fulham are a prime example.
“The money is just not there to support the demand. Statutory organisations who do work within the Home Offence definition of domestic abuse which is: “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
“The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional” have their focus (and rightly so) on the demand from women and girls but that means they cannot stretch what they have to offer further support to other marginalised groups within society and often services have no provision at all for anyone who is outside their frame of reference.”
Broken Rainbow, in recognition of the huge demand, particularly in direct services, is looking to extend its front line service provision within the next few months. Initially focusing in the North West of the country with an IDVA service and is also about to launch an LGBT legal assistance programme. “However the success of these is based on the existence of the helpline and we are just not in a position to guarantee that right now” said Ms Wilde.
Speaking about the funding crisis, Caroline Lucas MP said, “If Broken Rainbow is forced to close its services as a result of Government cuts, it will mean the loss of a unique service which has made a real difference to the lives of tens of thousands of people. To see it close just at the time when its services are under greatest demand would be perverse and counterproductive, putting more people at risk, and undermining the excellent work it has done to date. I urge the Government to think again.”
Baroness Barker added, “Broken Rainbow has a great record of helping the most vulnerable members of our community to escape and avoid domestic violence. The value of Broken Rainbow’s work is immense, not least the amount of harm which it prevents. Fundraising for such a difficult subject is tough, but I hope that resources can be found to keep this uniquely effective service going.”
If you want to know more about Broken Rainbow you can visit their website www.brokenrainbow.org.uk Broken Rainbow depends on donations and goodwill of its supporters.
Donations can be made via their website and even the smallest amount can make a difference to someone whose life is at risk.