LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence will have access to more help after a support service received funds to expand.

Durham Pride has been awarded money to increase its telephone advisor sessions and specialist advisor support and to provide an emergency safe space for victims fleeing abuse.

The funding comes from a £400,000 pot from Ministry of Justice, which the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner is distributing to organisations which have faced unprecedented challenges to deliver their vital services supporting victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence during the Covid-19 crisis.

Durham Pride's telephone sessions offer emotional support and advice, including how clients can manage complex domestic situations – with some living in fear and facing violence for just being who they are.

The funds also mean its a specialist advisor can support more victims and meet their individual needs.

And it will see the organisation offer an emergency safe space which LGBT+ victims can use to escape violence or abuse, whilst getting the support, housing and benefit services they need to get back on their feet.

The site will be specifically for young male victims as they are often unable to access women only services.

The Northern Echo:

Steve White, acting Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, said: “It is encouraging that we are able to support services such as Durham Pride with our funding. Key support organisations across County Durham and Darlington such as Durham Pride have adapted brilliantly during the Covid-19 crisis to continue to provide their vital services.

“Females are not the only victims, males are not the only perpetrator, it is not just about physical hurt, it is also psychological and it does not only occur in intimate relationships.

"We need victims to know that help is available throughout this period of uncertainty.”

Durham Pride is one of fourteen organisations to share the funding.

Mel Metcalf, of Durham Pride, said: “Having this help from the PCVC will make a huge difference.

"We know from our work that many victims of same sex domestic and/or sexual violence who live in smaller towns and rural areas find it difficult to seek help, even before Covid-19.

"But throughout this pandemic, people have been trapped in same sex abusive and violent relationships with little chance of escape.

"Many feel ashamed and find it hard to seek help because they do not want to disclose their sexuality to police or to the other organisations out there. Many victims often refuse to speak up about the abuse they’re suffering.

"With this money, we can help more vulnerable members of our LGBT+ community in County Durham and Darlington to have a voice and get the support they need.”

LGBT+ victims can access support from the Durham Pride and Harbour websites.