Wigan Council launches £180k abuse counselling team

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Children who have suffered from domestic abuse will soon be offered free counselling as part of new £180,000 council-run support service.

The town hall has advertised to find a supplier for the counselling services, which will target young and vulnerable victims, following an alarming spike in abuse incidents in the borough.

Members of the “children’s transformation service” said they have “identified the need” for the service to focus on children and young people impacted by familial domestic abuse.

Shocking figures recently revealed that the borough has seen a 40 per cent increase in domestic abuse crimes since 2015/16.

Coun Jenny Bullen, portfolio holder for children and young people, said: “Making sure young people who are being affected by domestic abuse get the support they need is extremely important to us, and this is why we are looking to work with an organisation that can provide that much needed counselling service.

“The commissioned service will deliver a counselling and support service to address the needs of the children and young people who are, or have been impacted by domestic abuse within the home.

“Making sure there is support available for the victims and their children is a key priority for us and is part of the national ‘Troubled Family’ criteria. All of this aims to reduce the negative impact that domestic abuse has on children and families and support the belief that Domestic Abuse and Violence is unacceptable.

“The chosen service will be accessible, independent and committed to children’s rights and will hold the children and young people at its core.”

Figures released in the annual report for Wigan’s safeguarding adults board showed that household violence classified as “crimes” were recorded as 1,940 for 2015-16 but this had risen to 2,735 for 2016-17.

Police say the number of overall incidents had only slightly increased from 7,062 to 7,172, for the same period.

The town hall has recently come under-fire from domestic abuse charities who claimed that those at risk are receiving “less visibility” since services were taken back in-house.

Wigan Council dramatically overhauled how it deals with the issue last year, setting up a “hub” at the police station with officers, independent domestic abuse groups, volunteers and civil society organisations all involved.

Suppliers will now have until March 23 to submit a bid for the counselling contract before the council chooses the most appropriate candidate.