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Cllr Leanne Werner appointed as new Deputy Cabinet Member to lead Southwark’s commitment to tackling domestic abuse


29 October 2020

Last night’s Council Assembly saw Cllr Leanne Werner appointed to the position of Deputy Cabinet Member for Domestic Abuse – a particularly apt appointment on White Ribbon Day (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls). Cllr Werner has been an active Labour councillor for South Bermondsey ward since 2018 and was previously the women’s officer for Bermondsey and Old Southwark Labour, where she campaigned extensively on the issue of violence against women and girls.

The introduction of this new role comes at a time when Southwark, like the rest of the UK, has experienced a rise in domestic abuse cases due to lockdown and home isolation creating an opportune environment for perpetrators. Unfortunately, calls by the Labour Party for the government to provide an effective, national strategy on domestic abuse as the country entered a second lockdown were ignored. 

Since 2016 Southwark Labour Group has had a policy of supporting all households who are homeless due to domestic abuse into long-term housing, regardless of local connection, and in July Southwark introduced a new housing allocations policy which places all survivors of domestic abuse (regardless of vulnerability or homelessness) into the ‘priority’ social housing category. Southwark is partnered with Solace Women’s Aid to deliver Solace Advocacy and Support Services (SASS), which provides a large range of domestic abuse services including advocacy, counselling, and in-house perpetrator programme and children’s therapy. 

Councillor Leanne Werner said: ‘I’m honoured to be taking on the role of Deputy Cabinet Member for Domestic Abuse during this critical time. The pandemic has seen a dramatic rise of domestic abuse cases across the country. Isolation has shattered support networks, making it far more difficult for survivors to get help or escape. Through my role I want to make sure that we have even more safe spaces in Southwark where people can access vital information on specialist domestic abuse services.’ 

Councillor Alice Macdonald, Cabinet Member for Communities and Equalities, said: “We have embedded the reduction of violence against women and girls into all of our work at the council. Cllr Werner’s new role is the next step in that work. Her appointment takes place as we mark 16 days of activism to fight violence against women and girls. These 16 days are an important moment to focus on the action needed, but this has got to be a 365 day effort with all of us coming together to end gender-based violence for good.’

Councillor Evelyn Akoto, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Safety, said: ‘2020 has shone a harsh light on domestic abuse; children have been away from school and women away from the workplace, unsafe in the one place they should feel safe – their homes. Southwark Labour Group will continue to do all that we can to make sure residents are safe and have somewhere to go.’

The Home Office have said that Covid-19 isolation rules do not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse. You can contact SASS at 020 7593 1290 or southwark@solacewomensaid.org 



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