Haywards Heath cat fostering service for domestic abuse victims receives funding boost

A free cat fostering service for victims of domestic abuse has received a grant of more than £11,000 from the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safe Space Sussex Funding Network.

Paws Protect at Cats Protection in Chelwood Gate, Haywards Heath, is a pet fostering service for families fleeing domestic abuse.

Katy Bourne with Bev Russell Rose and Abram from Paws Protect. Photo by Steve Robards

Katy Bourne with Bev Russell Rose and Abram from Paws Protect. Photo by Steve Robards

The volunteer-led project is the only service of its kind available in the county, and ensures cats are well-cared-for until their owners are able to resettle into a new home.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Paws Protect is a great example of an innovative local project that aims to help victims and protect those experiencing domestic violence.

“Disturbingly, it has become apparent that, within domestic abuse situations, offenders often threaten or even kill the victim’s pets as an emotional control mechanism.

“I am pleased to support a charity that recognises this issue and gives victims the piece of mind they need in order to distance themselves from their abuser and seek help in the knowledge that their pet has been safeguarded.

“I have enjoyed meeting the team here at Cats Protection and listening to the positive impact they have made already to victims of domestic abuse in Sussex.”

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Paws Protect project manager Beverley Russell said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from the Safe Space Funding Network, which will fund our Paws Protect work in Sussex for the next 18 months.

“Paws Protect provides a vital service for people who are fleeing incredibly difficult and distressing situations.

“For many victims, leaving abusive relationships is made impossible as they cannot bear to lose their pets or put them at risk.

“We work closely with refuges and women’s charities so that victims know we are here and able to help.

“Our volunteers look after cats in their own homes for as long as is needed – normally a few months – giving their owners the peace of mind that they’re being well cared-for and the knowledge that they’ll be reunited.”

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 200,000 cats and kittens each year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 36 centres.

The PCC receives a grant from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in relation to local commissioning of victims’ support services. It is this funding that the PCC then grant funds down to the VCSE sector.

Within the Police and Crime Plan (PCP) the Commissioner states a priority of protecting our vulnerable and helping victims to cope and recover from crime and abuse: