Turning Proceeds of Crime into something good

12th January 2024

Since 2014 we have been managing the Essex Police Proceeds of Crime Matched Funding Scheme (POCA).  Under the Scheme, all donations into the High Sheriff’s Fund or to set up individual charitable funds, can be matched with 50% from the monies we receive from POCA.  The only restriction is that the grantmaking from these Funds must support projects or organisations whose work is contributing to community safety in the county.

To date, the value of the endowed funds set up with support from the POCA Scheme is £1.2 million.

Below are three local charities that have received support:

Cara (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) based in Colchester, received £4,000 from three of our charitable funds set up with support from the Proceeds of Crime Matched Funding Scheme.  This funding supported the salary of a Young Person’s Practitioner, to work with children and young people who have experienced sexual violence or child sexual abuse.

Therapy, often provided 1 to 1, is so helpful for people, including children, who have experienced trauma or are vulnerable due to other circumstances.  In 2022, CARA paired counsellors with over 225 young people, supporting and acting as advocates for them.   Though the team fully expects the number of referrals they receive to continue increasing, they are preparing to face the challenge by organising a robust programme with a compassionate team and they have plans to expand and reach out to more young people.

This includes working with schools to raise awareness and help staff and teachers to better understand the needs of vulnerable students and ensure their needs are met.  To support this, CARA has made a series of videos that can easily be used in classrooms (these can be viewed here).

Helen Parr, CEO of CARA said, “Thank you so much for supporting CARA’s specialist counselling service for young people who have been victims of sexual violence or child sexual abuse. 

 “CARA is the only organisation in our area providing this vital support for young victims and survivors, and there is a huge demand for our service.  In 2023, we received 254 new referrals for young people aged 13-17.

 “We are very proud of our team of compassionate and committed Young Person’s Practitioners, who provide one-to-one therapeutic support for young people, helping them to understand what has happened to them and how it has affected them, recognise they are not to blame and develop coping skills to help them move forward with their lives.”

 

Children Heard and Seen (CHAS) were awarded £4,780 from the Leeze Charitable Fund in April 2023 to provide online support groups to children who have a parent in prison.

This online service is evidence of the organisation’s growth over the past year, in which time they have been able to offer their support to more children and families than ever before. Their one-to-one groups are helping them to understand their feelings about having a parent in prison and to focus on the positive influences in their lives.

Over 200 children are being steered through this challenging time.  By extending this guiding hand, providing a safe space and cultivating a sense of self purpose, Children Heard and Seen are helping to break the cycle of intergenerational offending.

It is wonderful to hear the feedback from the families who say things like “I don’t know where we would be without CHAS”, and “I wish there was something in place for other children up and down the country”.

To further support the children, CHAS offers a residential weekend during which they can meet and speak with community police officers. This helps to build understanding and nurture good relationships with the Police, while also bolstering children’s confidence.

Domestic abuse remains an issue of high priority nationally since the Covid19 isolation measures, with case numbers continuing to increase.  Organisations that support victims and survivors of abuse were concerned about the level of high and complex cases once isolation restrictions were lifted following a higher than usual exposure to violence in the home for both adults and children.

Next Chapter, founded in Colchester, is a domestic abuse charity providing a refuge (including a nursery) and outreach community-based services across North and Mid-Essex.

Through their outreach work, they support victims living with the perpetrator, or those who have moved on but still need support due to contact with the perpetrator, particularly if there are children involved, or where they are at risk of returning to an abusive relationship.

Beneficiaries number around 3,400 clients a year with a third residing in the City of Colchester.

Until recently, Next Chapter did not have a secure publicly accessible space, as its offices were previously housed within the refuge buildings, which are secure addresses due to the nature of the refuge.  Having acquired a building in Colchester, they can now provide a discreet, welcoming and safe space for women to drop in at any time for face-to-face support and to access a range of recovery programmes and literature to break the cycle of isolation and abuse and equip them on their journey into a safer life.

A grant of £5,000 from ECF POCA and other funds helped them to furnish their new drop-in space to create an environment that evokes a feeling of calm, calm, where they can talk about their experiences and feel supported.