Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS), the largest specialist charity in the North of England, supporting people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence, has secured a significant social investment loan of £1.685 million from Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC) to expand its range of safe accommodation for those fleeing abuse.

The loan from SASC’s Social and Sustainable Housing fund (SASH II), is complemented by a £400k grant from Access Foundation’s Cost of Living Social Investment Support Fund* and marks a pivotal moment for IDAS in its mission to provide safe housing for those escaping violence and abuse.

IDAS will purchase 16 one-to-three-bedroom properties in Sheffield and Barnsley for single people and families escaping domestic abuse. This marks the charity’s first step into property ownership.

In Sheffield, IDAS will expand upon the dispersed properties the charity has in partnership with Target Housing, an existing SASH borrower[i]. In Barnsley, the properties will be IDAS’s first dispersed units in the area alongside existing refuge provision.

Since its inception as Women’s Aid in the 1970s, IDAS has undergone significant growth, extending its services beyond York to encompass parts of North Yorkshire. Over the years, it has expanded its support framework to include male victims of abuse, leading to its rebranding as Independent Domestic Abuse Services in 2008.

The charity now offers a comprehensive range of services, including housing across multiple locations, 7-day helpline assistance, drop-in facilities, outreach programs for women and children, advocacy services, and domestic violence training. Tailored support, including specialised mental health assistance, is provided to all individuals, including children and young people, seeking refuge in IDAS accommodation.

In the previous year alone, IDAS supported over 10,000 victims and survivors of domestic abuse across Yorkshire, responding to approximately 30,000 helpline calls and offering emergency accommodation with intensive support to over 250 individuals, including 153 with children.

The urgency of IDAS’s mission is underscored by national statistics, it is estimated that 2.1 million people aged 16 years and over (1.4 million women and 751,000 men) experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales in the year ending March 2023[ii]. 100,000 people in the UK are at imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured because of domestic abuse every year[iii].

Sarah Hill, CEO of IDAS and Chair of the Women’s Aid Federation of England said: “Taking on social investment will shift our reliance on the private rental sector and give us greater control over our properties and where they are located. This loan has come at the right time as demand for our services is growing and we are unable to accommodate everyone referred to us.

“Buying properties will enable us to help more women, men and their families escaping domestic abuse. Our work is often transformational, and survivors regularly tell us that our support has changed and, in many cases, saved their lives. We believe everyone should be able to live lives free from abuse and violence and want to ensure this is a reality for those we support and future generations.”

Mark Bickford, CEO of SASC said: “IDAS is a long-established and well-recognised provider of domestic abuse services in the North of England with close relationships with commissioners and other local partners. The move to property ownership will help IDAS with future re-tenders with local commissioners who favour partners with scale and properties under ownership. It will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the charity and provide vital accommodation and services for people experiencing domestic abuse.”

SASH II, launched in November 2022 as the successor to the first SASH fund, exemplifies SASC’s ongoing dedication to supporting charitable organisations that combine housing provision with vital support services.

For more information on Independent Domestic Abuse Services, please visit: www.idas.org.uk

For more information on SASC, please visit: www.socialandsustainable.com

*The £400k grant is from the Cost of Living Social Investment Support Fund, administered by the Access Foundation, to enhance the capacity of social investors to address the challenges posed by rising living costs in underserved communities affected by long-term economic decline.

[i] https://www.socialandsustainable.com/portfolio/target-housing/

[ii] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/domesticabuseinenglandandwalesoverview/november2023

[iii] https://idas.org.uk/who-we-are/our-impact