A NEW refuge for people fleeing domestic abuse in Barnsley will be introduced, after current provisions were deemed inadequate in a council report released this week.

In Monday’s cabinet meeting, Coun Caroline Makinson outlined a new five-year strategy to improve support for victims.

She said the current safe accommodation model was not sustainable for domestic abuse victims in the borough, and properties to help them are oversubscribed.

“Analysis shows an increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents during the pandemic, and abuse is a common cause of homelessness.”

Research by the council also showed the prevalence of domestic abuse was not just seen in the ‘traditional’ scenario of heterosexual women fleeing abuse, but that there are a significant number of men and LGBT victims in Barnsley.

Coun Makinson added: “We have a need for a community service that responds to the needs of victims and builds on existing provision.”

The report states a new refuge will be introduced in the borough, and in order to achieve this, the council ‘will negotiate the ‘change of use’ of a property currently being used elsewhere’.

Once this has been done, the established refuge could then change its use, to offer a ‘concierge’ service so that the more complex clients can access 24-hour support’, the report said.

As well as providing additional housing units, other plans within the strategy include improvements in referral pathways, therapeutic groups, access to expert support and offering longer-term recovery.

Coun Jenny Platts said: “I think it’s really important we give all all the support we possibly can.”

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton added: “It’s a hugely important issue when we go into periods of austerity and poverty – adding to the severity of the problem. It tends to be women, not exclusively, but women with children too.

“The more we can provide help early the better.”