SafeLives practitioner survey
Nine out of ten domestic abuse services say demand has increased during a year of Covid-19.
Idvas and domestic abuse practitioners support victims, survivors and children to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. We are determined to champion that work and the need for all professionals to be properly supported and funded. Each year, at the request of the Home Office, we collect the number of domestic abuse professionals in England and Wales and their experiences and challenges.
In 2019, we found that we don't have enough domestic abuse professionals to support everyone who needs them. We used this information to call on the Government to #Invest2EndAbuse and invest in the full range of domestic abuse support in every area.
The 2020-21 survey was completed during the Covid-19 pandemic and we asked questions to frontline services about the direct impact of Covid-19 on their service provision and survivors accessing their service. The findings reveal the worrying extent of the pressure national lockdowns and social distancing measures have created for domestic abuse services, staff and survivors of abuse.
Demand for domestic abuse support has increased during Covid-19 and there is a lack of long-term sustainable funding. Alongside this, Idva provision in England and Wales has fallen for the first time in five years.
Key Findings from the 2020-21 survey
Demand for domestic abuse services is up
Nine out of ten domestic abuse practitioners have said demand for services have increased during a year of Covid-19. This is up from an increase of 38% at the start of the pandemic.
As a result, 41% felt they were unable to keep up with demand and one in five said they were concerned about the impact of the demand on staff's mental health and the risk of staff burnout.
"Our main line has been busy and had 120% increase in referrals to IDVA services."
Covid-19 restrictions have had a knock on effect
45% of respondents said their biggest concern was the safety of their clients. Lack of face-to-face support led to higher risk of harm.
Over a quarter of respondents said their biggest concern was the delay or unavailability of other services. An increase in the complexity of cases was seen but this was couple with the unavailability or delay of partner agencies. In particular, housing, drug and alcohol, mental health services and courts were all cited as being less able to engage with clients since the outbreak of Covid-19.
"Service users have been unable to access support and they no longer focus on their own needs. Service users have increased levels of anxiety and are experiencing more isolation, unable to be with support networks and family."
Staff capacity, recruitment and funding are a concern
41% of practitioners said their biggest concern was staff capacity, recruitment and funding. Services reported already working at maximum capacity or being understaffed. Many also commented that they were underfunded and unable to recruit more staff to match the increased demand.
Neatly a third of services felt they did not have the necessary resources for their service.
One quarter of respondents noted the time it takes to look and apply for funding.
"Constant unease among staff, difficult to recruit, risk of losing good staff."
Idva provision has fallen for the first time in five years
There is only 66% of the minimum required number of FTE Idvas in England and Wales to meet the needs of victims and the highest risk of serious harm or murder. This level has fallen for the first time since 2016.
Only three police force areas have the minimum requited number of Idvas, while 14% have less than 50%.
Just one in ten services had an Idva who was based in a health setting, and only one in twenty had an Idva providing specialised court support.
You should be able to access life-saving Idva support if you need it, wherever you live.
Click the map for more detail on each police force area