Council appoints new provider for refuge services

Clarion Housing Association has been awarded the contract for the provision of refuge services across East Sussex.

From November 1, 2021 Clarion will provide specialist support in 47 units of safe accommodation across the county for women experiencing domestic abuse and violence, and their children. Within a year of the contract starting, this provision will increase to 56 units to include anybody experiencing domestic abuse.

The total annual budget available for delivery of the refuge services is £535,380, an increase in the current contract value of an additional £192,000 per year.

The council is committed to providing a safe accommodation service which gives victim/survivors a strong sense of being in control of their lives, reduces incidents of harm relating to domestic abuse, and responds flexibly to changing legislation, needs and preferences.

Domestic Abuse Refuge Services in East Sussex will offer specialist support for children and young people, including 16/17-year-old victim/survivors, who will be accommodated in self-contained units within the first year of the contract.

In addition an outreach service will support the safe move-on of refuge residents back into the community. The contract also includes a requirement that all services are holistic and trauma-informed.

Councillor Carl Maynard, lead member for Community Safety at East Sussex County Council, said: “Domestic abuse affects thousands of people in East Sussex. Support and accommodation for victims is vital and a key objective within our strategy to end violence and protect people from harm.

“We are pleased that following a robust procurement process, Clarion has been appointed to deliver this new service which will give those affected by domestic violence and abuse in the county access to increased help and support.

“We look forward to working with Clarion on the new approach.”

The new service will support people who are at risk of, or fleeing from, domestic abuse to achieve greater independence, live in good quality, safe, temporary refuge accommodation and provide opportunities to enable their voices to be heard.

Michelle Reynolds, Chief Operating Officer at Clarion Housing Association, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to deliver the refuge provision in East Sussex.

“We already provide refuges within the South East region in Kent and Medway and are looking forward to working together with our multi-agency partners to successfully mobilise the service.

“We believe everyone should have the opportunity to live healthy, safe and happy lives. By providing quality, safe and trauma-informed services to victims and children affected by domestic abuse, we hope to give them the help and support they deserve.”

The contracts for the existing refuge services in East Sussex are due to end on 31 October 2021 prompting the council to undertake a review and re-tendering process. Between now and 1 November 2021, the council will be working with Clarion and Refuge, the current service provider, to ensure a smooth handover of the refuges and the continued safety of residents.

Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, the incumbent provider of refuge services in East Sussex said, “We are working very closely with East Sussex County Council to ensure that there is a smooth transition in handing over our East Sussex refuges to Clarion. We will be involved in mobilisation meetings over the next few months to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and support the transfer of our staff.”