VICTIMS of domestic violence are to be offered greater choice of accommodation in Dorset in a bid to help them rebuild their lives.

Dorset Council will be changing the way it provides accommodation from a large, shared building in west Dorset to a number of smaller houses across the county.

The changes have been developed in partnership with current residents who struggle to feel safe and settled in such a large building. This will allow them greater choice and control over where they can settle.

The council currently provides 19 units of accommodation-based support as well as outreach into the community and this level of support will remain unchanged.

Support and advice includes housing, finance and emotional wellbeing. The new approach is more personalised, offering self-contained, private spaces for individuals, and often their children, to regain their independence.

Councillor Graham Carr-Jones, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing explained more:

“We are proud of our record of providing support to people escaping domestic violence and abuse. This is another innovative development for Dorset.

“Many groups of people cannot use traditional refuge accommodation, perhaps due to the age of their children, their gender or because they have additional needs. This revised model allows us to meet the needs of all Dorset residents and gives people choices over where they get help.

"Enabling people to make community links and develop local networks of support in the areas they are likely to live in in the longer term is a real benefit.”

Dorset Council has managed more than 1,000 requests for help from victims of domestic violence over the past 12 months.