Aberdeenshire Council has confirmed its commitment to continue to support an anti-violence partnership over the next two years.
The Violence Against Women & Girls Partnership (VAWP) involves a range of statutory and voluntary agencies in Aberdeenshire – including the council – aimed at preventing violence and providing support to women, children and young people who have or are at risk of experiencing violence from men.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee was asked to consider the group’s work at its meeting earlier this month, as part of guidelines on partnership working.
Each local VAWP reports directly to the Scottish Government on the progress being made against the national strategy ‘Equally Safe: Scotland’s partnership for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls’, which is also supported by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).
A strategy and action plan was launched by the Aberdeenshire VAWP earlier this year, supporting the national aims of encouraging equality, helping women and girls to thrive, taking action early and effectively to prevent violence, and to see an end to all forms of violence against women and girls by men.
Head of Children’s Services Leigh Jolly, who also leads the Aberdeenshire VAWP, told the committee that the risk of violence and exploitation significantly increases during periods of lockdown and that it is a particularly difficult time for adults and children living with domestic abuse.
The partnership is working to highlight the additional risks brought about through the current circumstances to ensure the group is doing everything it can to support children and their families and that support services are still visible and available.
Leigh added the council is committed to working with partners to mitigate risks and that services would not be reduced, although they are being delivered differently.
The committee also heard that the housing service is bringing empty properties back into use to support those who may need urgent accommodation.
Welcoming the work to date, the committee asked what support was available to male victims of violence and was told of some of the dedicated agencies making such provision. It was also requested that information for victims of violence be made available in public spaces in addition to existing online resources.
The committee went on to agree that Aberdeenshire Council should continue to support be a VAWP. In the shorter term, the partnership will present its annual report to the committee and discuss progress to date.
It was also agreed that the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership should be asked to consider a mechanism for monitoring incidents of violence domestic violence against men.
Speaking after the meeting, Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling said: “The Violence Against Women & Girls Partnership has been carrying out important work with a range of partners to support and protect those at risk of violence and, as we respond to the challenges of coronavirus, that support is more important than ever.
“We were reassured to hear of the additional efforts that are being made to maintain services during this time and look forward to seeing the group’s annual report in due course.”
Committee vice-chair Cllr Michael Roy added: “This targeted work by VAWP is very welcome and it is pleasing to see it being given a high priority by so many public agencies.
“We’re also very keen to understand the wider support available to all victims of violence to ensure that everybody has access to the assistance they might need.”