Posts tagged ‘Specialist domestic abuse services’

August 4, 2012

Celebrating Success – ASSIST service to cover all of Strathclyde

Following on from my last post, the other bit of great news from the news of funding for VAWG services in Scotland, is the decision to roll out the ASSIST service across the whole of the Strathclyde police force area.  ASSIST provides a great IDVA service and set up the first Scottish MARAC a few years ago.  It is heartwarming to see their hard work rewarded in this way at a time when growth and expansion are hardly the order of the day.

ASSIST have been friends of CAADA’s since day 1 – I think we were set up at almost the same time.  Deb Nicholson the first manager came on our first IDVA training course in 2005, and her successor Mhairi McGowan attended a couple of years later.  They were one of the grantees from the Hestia Fund and we even managed to hire one of the IDVAs, Lucy McDonald who continues to train for us.  Now we are working with them and Scottish Women’s Aid to deliver accredited training for domestic abuse practitioners in Scotland – and very proud to do so.  I don’t know many people who have been as unstintingly positive, reliable and generous as Mhairi – so to her and her team – CONGRATULATIONS!  The women of Strathclyde will be safer as a result of this decision.


August 4, 2012

Can someone explain? £5 vs £0.30p a head…

I have a pile of papers marked ‘To Read at the Weekend’.  It doesn’t always get read.  I have been carrying around for a couple of weekends the press release from the Scottish Government about their funding for Violence Against Women and Girls.  They announced funding of £34.5m for the next 3 years – £11.5m a year or £5 per woman over the age of 16 in the population.  I looked again at the figures for funding for VAWG services in England and Wales….£7m a year or £0.30p a head.

When I started working on domestic abuse in 2003, it was because several people told me that it was ‘the biggest human problem that was the hardest to raise money for.’  It seems like not much has changed south of the border.

Can anyone explain?

January 26, 2012

Why I love my job…

There are good days, bad days and days when you remember what a great job you have.  Yesterday was one of the latter.  I was delighted to host the first semi annual meeting of the managers of the accredited Leading Lights IDVA services.  I was slightly anxious beforehand as I wasn’t too sure how it would go.  I shouldn’t have worried.

I spent two of the most energising hours of the year with about a dozen service managers, hearing what they had achieved, how they were dealing with the current environment and a bit about their plans for the future.  I talked briefly (well as briefly as I could manage) about CAADA’s strategy and how we hope to achieve our 5 year goals of halving the number of high risk victims from 100,000 to 50,000 and halving the time it takes for them to get help from 5 years to 2.5 years – with all that this means for the safety and well-being of their children.  We then heard from Advance about their approach to working with commissioners.  They have recently been successful in expanding their IDVA service from Hammersmith and Fulham and Brent, to Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.  Finally, we had a fascinating discussion about the work that Blackpool Advocacy are doing with children and young people affected by domestic abuse, funded through Comic Relief.  This is obviously particularly relevant in view of the Government’s consultation about dropping the age of domestic abuse to 16.

Our plan is to meet again in six months, give ourselves a longer time to discuss things and perhaps invite in an outside speaker – as well as welcoming the newly accredited services to the party!  I know that everyone knows this – but the dedication and creativity of the people around the table was outstanding – so I will say it one more time.  And it is one reason why I love my job….

November 26, 2011

Does your service or your MARAC support under-18’s experiencing domestic abuse?

The Home Office is considering amending the definition of domestic abuse to include young people between 16-18.  In the latest VAWG newsletter ( ) they are asking for feedback about the provision of support to young people experiencing domestic abuse – so if your service, IDVA team or MARAC work directly with this age group, please respond by 31st December 2011.

September 30, 2011

How would you spend £250m? Bins or lives?

On emptying the bins each week?  Really? Of how about some other options?

1. Keeping legal aid in private law family cases as it stands today – keeping thousands of vulnerable people, especially children safe and offering justice to the most needy

2. Employing 400 IDVAs across the health service for 20 years- YES – 20 years – offering support to the 40,000+ high risk victims who do not access the criminal justice system.

3. Employ all IDVAs and all MARAC coordinators for 8 years and save….well over a £1bn.

How can emptying bins be a better decision??

July 29, 2011

Moving from planet to planet

On our new CPD course which looks at safeguarding children living with DV, we talk about the ‘3 planets’ theory developed by Professor Marianne Hester.  This theory highlights how differently a single family is regarded on the domestic violence planet (victim is central, perpetrator is held responsible for their actions, children are not very visible), the child protection planet (victim often held responsible, perpetrator is often invisible and children are central) and the child contact planet (victim and perpetrator are treated equally, children are central).  We spend most of our lives on the domestic abuse ‘planet’ and can often be heard to say that those who ‘live’ on the other planets, just ‘don’t understand’.

One of the things that has been revealing on this training, has been how valuable it is to start to understand how the planets interpret the same situations, and why they see things differently.  We have just been assessing the work of the last course and one comment really struck us.  The practitioner concerned highlighted the following:

The course ‘gave me a chance to focus on quality of my referrals to children’s social care concentrating on the effects of the abuse on the children. This was a steep learning curve as previously I had been so centred on the ‘domestic abuse planet’ (Hester, 2004) my referrals prior to this process tended to forget that the idea was to focus on safeguarding the children, but instead was more generalised about the whole situation.

Completing the work around referrals has provided me with the confidence to challenge children’s social care about rejected referrals but also has given me the knowledge to look back at my referrals and amend and re-refer, resulting in some cases being opened by children’s social care, purely due to me providing more accurate and child focused information.

For so long we have read the serious case reviews that highlight the ‘professional optimism’ of practitioners working with the adult, and our research Safety in Numbers again showed that over 25% of children living with domestic abuse experienced direct threats of harm – 11% with direct threats to kill.  Feedback like that above gives us hope that this might show a way to narrow this gap.

July 26, 2011

Congratulations to new Leading Lights Services

Three more services have successfully achieved Leading Lights status. They are Nia and Evolve (part of Solace Women’s Aid) in London and Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid ‘B’ Division. Achieving this accreditation requires real commitment and hard work but we hope results in a consistent and high quality response to victims of domestic abuse. The coaching and support that precedes the formal accreditation gives service managers a chance to step back from the day to day and reflect with a small group of other managers how best to develop and reinforce their organizations. We are proud that there are now 12 Leading Lights services with over 20 more at various stages of the process.

Our next focus is to work with commissioners to ensure that they understand the importance of commissioning to a clear set of standards.

May 30, 2011

Welcome to the new Leading Lights Services – Sheffield, Kent, Cardiff, Leicestershire and Southampton

We are really delighted that a further 5 specialist domestic abuse services have signed up for our coaching and accreditation programme – Leading Lights.  They are:

  • Vida in Sheffield
  • Cardiff Women’s Aid
  • Oasis Domestic Abuse Services in Kent
  • Women’s Aid Leicestershire
  • Southampton IDVA Service

They join 9 fully accredited services and about 30 others who are currently going through the programme. The CAADA Leading Lights programme recognises safe and consistent practice among IDVA services. The accreditation programme, which is based upon practical and effective policies and processes, offers a clear path towards consistent standards of care across the IDVA sector and has now been adopted by several commissioners around the country.  We are delighted about this as we believe that the Leading Lights framework represents a sound and high quality basis for commissioning.


March 28, 2011

Continuing Professional Development – New Steps for our sector

Some of you who know me well will have listened to me talk wistfully about a CPD programme for our sector.  The feedback we get from practitioners who attend our foundation training for IDVAs is really positive- but until now we have not had a way of building on this and developing the skills and practice of our sector still further.  UNTIL NOW!!  I am really proud to announce our new CPD programme which was launched earlier this month with a specialist module on safeguarding children living with domestic abuse, accredited with the University of Bath.

read more »

February 17, 2011

Who’s to blame for charity cuts?

You may have seen in yesterday’s Guardian that Denise Marshall, Director of Eaves Housing for Women is handing back her OBE, highlighting her frustration with the cuts her charity is facing.  New Philanthropy Capital have highlighted some wider issues.  See below:

Who’s to blame for charity cuts? | New Philanthropy Capital’s Blog.