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Support sought for domestic abuse survivors with learning disabilities

09 April 2024

A campaign has been launched to find carers for people with learning disabilities who have experienced domestic abuse.

The initiative – the first of its kind in the country – is a joint scheme between Cambridgeshire Shared Lives and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (DASV) Partnership.

It arose after the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation Needs Assessment identified gaps in safe accommodation for people with disabilities, including learning disabilities.

Research shows a growing national need for more specialised domestic abuse services. It was found that women with learning disabilities, autism or both are three times more likely to experience domestic abuse than their non-disabled peers (ONS, 2021). Cambridgeshire County Council is pleased to launch the first project of its kind, addressing someone’s care and support needs at the same time as their needs as a survivor of domestic abuse.

The aim of this campaign is to recruit Shared Lives Domestic Abuse Carers – a paid role with carers being self-employed and the scheme paying their fees.

This will provide a person-centred, long-term support approach for survivors of domestic abuse, acknowledging the impact abuse can have for people specifically with learning disabilities. People can offer support just for a few hours in the daytime, for an overnight stay, or for an extended break.

Organisers are keen not only to provide vital care and support for those who have experienced domestic abuse in Cambridgeshire, but also to give residents new skills and career opportunities to encourage support within their communities.

The scheme is being funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough DASV Partnership. The Partnership chose to approach the Shared Lives team at Cambridgeshire County Council for the pilot due to their experience with supporting people with learning disabilities.

White Ribbon Ambassador for Cambridgeshire County Council Cllr Neil Shailer said: “This is an exciting and much-needed initiative which will provide invaluable support for people with learning disabilities who have experienced some sort of domestic abuse – often an under-acknowledged characteristic which deserves greater recognition. As the first scheme of its kind in the country, I hope more will follow. Also that this will help raise the profile of people in similar situations who might currently be suffering in silence.”

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