Women’s abuse charity Rise loses £5m contract for not supporting men The Times 24.02.21

The original article is here.

A domestic violence charity for women has lost its £5 million public contract after the council said it wanted to focus on more “inclusive service provision”.

Rise, which has worked in Brighton and Hove for more than 25 years and runs a refuge and helpline, was sidelined after an assessment presented to councillors identified a need for more support for heterosexual and gay male survivors and raised concerns about “barriers” to services for trans people.

However, the charity highlighted its existing work to safeguard LGBTQ+ people and said that it had explained to the council how it would extend its approach to include heterosexual men.

Rise said it was “disappointed”, adding that “women remain the group most subjected to, and most severely impacted by, domestic abuse”. An online petition entitled “Rise up! Bring Our Women’s Refuge Home”, has gathered more than 24,000 signatures.

A local authority briefing to councillors last week said: “A commissioned report found that contracted domestic abuse services are viewed as much more accessible to women and that onsite provision is women-only.

“The EIAs [equalities impact assessments] highlighted the need for more support for both heterosexual and gay male survivors, and highlighted specific barriers to service experienced by the trans community, with trans survey respondents noting that the type of support they wanted was not available.

“The tender specification for community services was therefore intentionally non-gendered and inclusive to all survivors.”

The charity lost the contract, worth £5.1 million over seven years, after a procurement process run as part of the joint commissioning arrangements with East Sussex county council, the Brighton & Hove clinical commissioning group and the Sussex police and crime commissioner. It is being replaced by Victim Support, which will run a community domestic abuse outreach service, and Stonewater, which will provide refuge units.

Rise said 14 years ago it “initiated what became one of the country’s first dedicated LGBTQ+ domestic abuse casework services. Four years ago, we co-piloted an innovative LGBTQ+ refuge.” The charity said it had explained how it would extend its approach “to include heterosexual males”.

Brighton and Hove city council said that to ensure it continued to “offer the best support for survivors of domestic abuse . . . at the end of the previous contract, a fair procurement exercise was run”.

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