A new project is Fife is aiming to support victims of domestic abuse while reducing homelessness in the region.
Research shows the two issues can be closely linked and can have a significant impact on women and children’s health and wellbeing.
The Women’s Health Improvement Research (WHIR) project, together with the Fife Housing Partnership, has been working with women who have experienced domestic abuse to improve housing support and ensure the right advice is available when they need it most.
Project leaders say they want to support women and children sooner in the process, and to work to keep them in the family home whenever possible.
There were 4,436 incidents of domestic abuse in Fife last year, an average of 12 a day, and 944 sexual crimes recorded.
Labour councillor Judy Hamilton, WHIR chairwoman, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the Women’s Health Improvement Research Project Team.
“These are an amazing group of women, who from their own experience researched how women facing domestic abuse are treated within the housing system.
“The research shows that it’s generally the woman and children who leave the home following domestic abuse. And they challenged us to offer better support.”
Figures nationally suggest that 11% of homeless people find themselves without accommodation because of a dispute within the household.
In the case of women, many feel they have no choice but to leave because they are fleeing a violent or abusive partner.
Mrs Hamilton added: “We want all of our staff to start having conversations earlier, as good housing advice at an early stage can help reduce homeless.
“It’s important that we provide a range of options to ensure that the woman and any children are safe but also, where possible, to enable them to stay in the family home.
“It’s important that we present women with options wherever possible and support them to make decisions – having options is empowering.”
More information can be found on www.fifehousingregister.org.uk/options.
A range of support is also available through Fife Council housing services, Fife Women’s Aid, the Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline, the Rape Crisis Helpline, and the Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre.