Commissioner secures £1million to boost education and support for young people affected by violence against women and girls

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, Lisa Townsend, has secured almost £1million in Government funding to provide a package of support for young people to help combat violence against women and girls in the county.

The sum, granted by the Home Office’s What Works Fund, will be spent on a series of projects designed to build self-confidence in children with the aim of enabling them to live safe and fulfilled lives. Reducing violence against women and girls  is one of the key priorities in Lisa’s Police and Crime Plan.

At the heart of the new programme is specialist training for teachers delivering Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education at every school in Surrey via Surrey County Council’s Healthy Schools scheme, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of pupils.

Teachers from Surrey schools, as well as key partners from Surrey Police and domestic abuse services, will be given additional training to support students and reduce their risk of becoming either victim or abuser.

Pupils will learn how their sense of worth can shape the course of their lives, from their relationships with others to their achievements long after leaving the classroom.

The training will be supported by Surrey Domestic Abuse Services, the YMCA’s WiSE (What is Sexual Exploitation) programme and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC).

Funding will be in place for two-and-a-half years to enable the changes to become permanent.

Lisa said her office’s latest successful bid will help end the scourge of violence against women and girls by encouraging young people to see their own value.

She said: “Perpetrators of domestic abuse inflict devastating harm in our communities, and we must do everything we can to end the cycle before it can begin.

“That is why it’s brilliant news that we’ve been able to secure this funding, which will join the dots between schools and services.

“The aim is prevention, rather than intervention, because with this funding we can ensure greater unity across the whole system.

“These enhanced PSHE lessons will be delivered by specially-trained teachers to help support young people across the county. Students will learn how to value their physical and mental health, their relationships and their own wellbeing, which I believe will benefit them throughout their lives.”

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has already allocated around half of its Community Safety Fund to protect children and young people from harm, strengthen their relationships with police and provide help and advice when needed.

In her first year in office, Lisa’s team secured more than £2million in extra Government funding, much of which was allocated to help tackle domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.

Detective Superintendent Matt Barcraft-Barnes, Surrey Police’s strategic lead for violence against women and girls and domestic abuse, said: “In Surrey, we have made a commitment to create a county that is safe and feels safe. To do this, we know that we must work closely with our partners and local communities to address the issues that matter most, together.

“We know from a survey we conducted last year there are areas of Surrey where women and girls do not feel safe. We also know many incidents of violence against women and girls are not reported as they are considered ‘everyday’ occurrences. This cannot be. We know how offending which is often deemed less serious can escalate. Violence and attacks against women and girls in any form cannot be the norm.

“I am delighted that the Home Office has awarded this funding for us to deliver a whole-system and coordinated approach that will help prevent violence against women and girls here in Surrey.”

Clare Curran, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “I’m delighted that Surrey will be receiving funding from the What Works Fund.

“The funding will go towards vital work, allowing us to deliver a range of support to schools around personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education that will make a huge difference to the lives of students and teachers.

“Not only will teachers from 100 schools receive additional PSHE training, but the support will also lead to the development of PSHE Champions within our wider services, who will be best able to support schools appropriately using prevention and trauma informed practice.

“I’d like to thank my Office for their work in securing this funding, and to all the partners involved in supporting the training.”

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