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  1. A group supporting women through domestic abuse has praised the way the service has been supported by Herefordshire Council Members of the council’s adult scrutiny body were given an update on Herefordshire’s Domestic Abuse Strategy in a report which highlighted that: ‘Domestic abuse is a complex and pervasive issue which cannot be addressed fully by any single organisation. The overall purpose of the strategy is to provide direction to partner organisations on how they can work collaboratively to prevent, identify and respond to domestic abuse.’ The strategy will also enable compliance with new legislation in this year’s Domestic Abuse Act. West Mercia Women's Aid has been involved in reviewing the Domestic Abuse Strategy. CEO, Sue Coleman, said: ‘Herefordshire Council has been supporting domestic abuse services for some time,’ adding that the services in the county were such that those escaping domestic abuse could be offered safe and secure accommodation. Over the past year support for services has significantly increased the capacity to support victims and their children in an enhanced safe accommodation offer, with specialist support for those with multiple complex needs. Referring to the new women’s refuge in Hereford Sue Coleman said that the refuge was: ‘As good as it gets across the country and we are very proud of it.’ She told the council’s Adult Scrutiny Committee that families who had used the refuge were very appreciative of the combined privacy and community support alongside the quality of service at a difficult time. West Mercia Women's Aid have also been working with Connexus and Herefordshire Council to develop satellite properties across the county that would allow greater flexibility and support for families escaping domestic abuse. Ms Coleman told councillors that any strategy must ensure that children are also considered as victims where domestic abuse has occurred and that the aid group was working with the council’s children’s department to ensure children got the right support when they needed it. The committee heard a first-hand account of how damaging emotional abuse can be, often with little evidence, and how counselling services must be made affordable as it was often through counselling that women were signposted to support services – and unaffordable counselling discriminated against the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
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