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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-20-05

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


Charity sees more baby victims of domestic abuse

FIGURES released by Buttle UK; a UK wide charity providing financial support to help children (up to the age of 18) in crisis; has shown a staggering growth in the number of young victims exposed to domestic abuse.

Buttle UK's exclusive figures show that the number of grants awarded to families affected by domestic abuse rose by 22% between 2015 and 2016. Over ₤1m was awarded to those families affected by domestic abuse last year alone.

Even more alarming is the statistic that nearly 10,000 children who were referred to Buttle UK last year had been affected by domestic abuse;  out of these 3,384 children were aged 4 or under. This represents an increase of 35% on the number of cases in this age group compared to the year before.

Although Buttle UK was setup to support children and young people who are in financial hardship and are dealing with other serious social issues, domestic abuse is consistently becoming the primary reason why they get referrals (and this is true across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales). Looking at the reasons as to why families were referred to the charity during the last 5 years, 27% stated the primary or secondary reason for support was domestic abuse. This equates to 15,483 of 57,024 cases referred to Buttle UK during this time.

Of the children and young people supported by Buttle UK grants over the last 5 years 35,380 out of 121,540 were affected by domestic abuse. The charity registered a 29% increase in the number of children in this category last year. The types of abuse registered included physical, mental and sexual abuse. In most cases the children had witnessed the abuse taking place in the home, often on an ongoing basis. For many their behaviour had become either withdrawn or challenging as a result.

Buttle UK is a unique children's charity, with their administration costs covered by a legacy set up by its founder, clergyman Frank Buttle, some 60 years ago. This means that the charity is in a position to offer donors the opportunity for every penny of a gift to go directly to support the cause. Today they are the country's largest grant-awarding charity, focusing funding directly on children and young people and the main distributor of small grants for BBC Children in Need.

Commenting on the figures Gerri McAndrew, CEO of Buttle UK said:- "Domestic abuse is an extensive and largely under-reported problem across the UK. Support services often assume that a child's needs can be met by addressing the needs of the abused parent. The increase in referrals we have seen may be a result of better awareness of the issue in general, but we still believe that the specific issues that children face in these situations are not being identified and met.  We believe that this is the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse, but there has been very little published data in this area. The high number of children affected by the issue is key to the rationale for our 'Chances for Children' campaign which hopes to raise an additional ₤10m over the next 5 years to help meet the inevitable increase in need to support these cases going forward."

McAndrew added:- "The current Government's policy on domestic violence has no specific provision for children affected by domestic abuse, and there are currently no official statistics on the number of children who live with it. During this election we are calling for all parties to identify and prioritise the needs of these children in their manifestos. We hope the next Government will drive forward systemic change in how support services account for the needs of children".

How Buttle UK are responding to the rise in children affected by domestic abuse

Over the last 3 years Buttle UK have been piloting an innovative new approach to supporting children affected by domestic abuse. They have been providing grants up to the value of ₤2000 that can be spent on a wide range of items and costs designed to:

Help victims of domestic abuse to resettle after leaving an abusive relationship; making them less vulnerable to returning to an abusive relationship as they try to live independently for the first time. Here we have provided the families with essential household items required, establishing an independent, long term and secure home.

Specific funding targeted at children to help them overcome their experiences and settle into their new surroundings. This has included:- tutoring lessons, homework clubs, uniforms, computers, educational toys, after school clubs, swimming lessons, football, drama clubs, karate lessons, play therapy and lastly counselling.

To date this initiative has awarded 470 grants to the tune of ₤580,000. This project was supported with funding from the City of London Corporation's charity, the City Bridge Trust and ran across all London Boroughs and the average grant awarded was ₤1240.

An independent evaluation of the project has found that the grants offer:-

A new beginning, that is more dignified than it would have been.

Reduction in tension within the family: improving family functioning.

Reduction in parental stress linked to household and financial management and an improvement in parenting capacity.

Reduction in mother's isolation: improving support networks and resources she can draw on.

Paying for extra tuition helps children to 'catch up' and increase confidence. It helps to address missed school, school changes and disengagement due to trauma.

Paying for after school activities help to improve children's behaviour at, and engagement with, school.

Computers are now essential for secondary school children. Paying for these reduces the complicated arrangements and costs associated with not having a computer at home.

Parents in this situation are more typically focused on the 'here and now' grant helped to support successful post-crisis transition.

For the support services, the grants helped to make services more child centred, by encouraging them to think about the children's needs. They improved the relationship between referrer agency and client, due to the level of practical support provided.

Buttle UK's 'Chances for Children Campaign' is set to raise an additional ₤10m to help thousands of children in crisis. Last year Buttle UK awarded 10,000 grants reaching early 30,000 children and amounting to ₤3.9m. ₤2.25m was awarded to families on behalf of BBC Children in Need.

Donations to help young children experiencing domestic abuse can be made at:- ButtLeuk.Org. Video can be watched on YouTube.


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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