In total Matthew Scott has handed out nearly £700,000 to 20 services which help the victims of crime across the county.
The awards are designed to help keep them on a stable financial footing after much of their normal fundraising work was curtailed by Covid-19.
But Mr Scott has focused the funding on domestic abuse because of a rise in the criminal activity during the lockdown as families spent more time together at home. The grants will allow the organisations to run additional support programmes.
Overall, £693,036 will be distributed from two sources, the Ministry of Justice’s Covid-19 Fund (£640,381) and the PCC’s Covid-19 Fund (£52,655).
Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Services, based in Tunbridge Wells, has been given £64,680.
Its deputy operations manager Prem Konieczny told the Times: “There has been a significant increase in domestic abuse in Kent during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Research indicates the lockdown and prolonged social isolation with an abuser is increasing the risk of domestic abuse by 25 per cent.
“Many victims of domestic abuse are using coping strategies whilst in lockdown with their abuser, and we are expecting a huge increase in referrals when the lockdown is lifted.”
Last year the charity received over 1,000 referrals but Mr Konieczny said cases being referred to the charity were ‘more urgent and complex’.
The charity has responded by expanding its volunteer support services via its helpline, doubling its opening hours so that it is now available from Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm.
‘I am grateful to the Government for releasing extra funding to help domestic support and sexual violence charities, but I wanted to do my bit for other projects too’
Mr Konieczny said: “We continue to receive a high rate of referrals despite many victims being unable to seek help while in lockdown.
“It is essential that people experiencing domestic abuse seek the support they need at this difficult time so they can make them and their children safe.”
DAVSS chief executive Henu Cummins, who previously worked as Operations Manager at the homeless charity Porchlight, says Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge are traditionally poor relations in terms of funding.
“West Kent doesn’t always get in the spotlight due to the affluence here,” she said. “I’ve worked across all 13 boroughs and West Kent is under-served. Funding tends to be allocated to the more deprived areas of the county.”
Among the other local beneficiaries is the housing association Look Ahead, which runs the Colebrook Road hostel in Tunbridge Wells and distributes funding for the homeless across West Kent.
It received £18,096 while another housing association, Clarion, which runs properties across the region, also received £30,482.
Victim Support, which is one of several services which have a nationwide reach, received the highest award – £93,062.
David Naylor of Victim Support said: “This funding has come at a crucial time. We are supporting growing numbers of domestic abuse and sexual violence victims to cope and recover from experiences of crime since lockdown.
“As restrictions lift, we anticipate that even more people will reach out for practical and emotional help.
“Although this funding has come as a result of Covid-19, it will leave a legacy long after lockdown restrictions lift.”
The Ministry of Justice money was targeted specifically at 18 organisations which support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
But Mr Scott, recognising that smaller local services like DAVSS were struggling too, provided a sum from his own annual commissioning budget for a further six services.
He said: “As lockdown has begun to ease we have already seen more victims of domestic abuse coming forward to seek help.
“I asked the Chief Constable [Alan Pughsley] about this at my most recent Performance and Delivery Board meeting and I am confident that Kent Police is ready to meet that demand, but it is vital that the additional support local charities provide is also available.
“I am grateful to the Government for releasing extra funding to help domestic support and sexual violence charities, but I wanted to do my bit for other projects too.”
The recipients are required to update Mr Scott’s office regularly on the progress of their projects, so he can ‘ensure the taxpayers’ money is being spent wisely’.
To contact the DAVSS helpline call 01892 570538. Victims are being encouraged to follow #youarenotalone on social media to report abuse and seek help.
For more information, visit davss.org.uk