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‘We need to do more’ for victims of domestic abuse

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VICTIMS fleeing domestic abuse have priority when it comes to accessing emergency housing but more needs to be done on the issue, the Children’s and Housing Minister has said.

Picture: DAVID FERGUSON.Sam Mezec. (27279909)

Responding to a question from Deputy Louise Doublet during yesterday’s States sitting, Senator Sam Mézec admitted that there were difficulties when domestic-abuse victims did not have housing qualifications and that a solution would require ‘tough thinking from myself’.

He said a new cluster of organisations helping homeless people had been set up and was seeing some success.

The minister said: ‘Yes, victims do get priority. The homeless review report that has been taking place is imminent and that will highlight things that need to be done.

‘We need to do more to find permanent solutions when it comes to domestic-violence victims,’ he said, adding that a ‘cluster’ of organisations had been brought together to examine the problem and had achieved some success.

‘Ideally we would have significantly more housing and that would help to find permanent solutions.

‘I will openly say the difficulty I have come across – and it will require tough thinking from myself and the Assembly – relates to those who wish to flee homes due to domestic violence who do not have housing qualifications.

‘We have no way of supporting these people.

‘No one should stay in a home like this, especially when they have children.’

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Deputy Geoff Southern stated in a follow-up question that this was a matter of human rights, which the minister agreed with. He added that the children’s services were looking at provisions to help people and families who had these issues.’

Also during question time, Senator Mézec confirmed that a scheme to provide a salary to foster carers looking after children with complex needs would not be extended to parents.

Earlier this year, the minister announced the introduction of a new £40,000-a-year paid fostering scheme. Deputy Steve Ahier had asked if parents of children with complex needs could be given a similar sum of money.

However, Senator Mézec told Deputy Steve Ahier that he thought he had missed the point of what the scheme was for.

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‘It is obviously always the first preference that families be supported in whatever way necessary and sometimes that will not be support through financing but that could be to provide as supportive a home for those children as possible,’ he said.

‘It is only for those sad situations where that is not possible where fostering is considered.

‘It is now the view that because of the history of unfortunately having to send some children off the Island – because we have not had the facilities on the Island to support them – that a paid intensive fostering service is needed and is in the best interests of those children.’

The fostering service will be available to children aged from birth to 18 years with a range of complex or other specialist needs or who have a significant health issue, disability, long-term condition or life-limiting illness or have experienced abuse or trauma.

Permanent residential care in the UK can cost around £200,000 per child each year.

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