We have three refuges which each provide comfortable, safe accommodation for up to 13 families fleeing domestic abuse. Women and their children whose level of risk from domestic abuse has been assessed as being high can come to the refuge where they can live safely and receive the specialist support that they need to help them overcome the trauma which they have suffered.
When a woman comes into refuge she is assigned a keyworker to provide support to help her overcome the abuse that she has suffered. The key worker will work with her to undertake regular risk assessments so that the issues affecting her safety, and that of her children, can be monitored and any increased risks can be easily identified. Women are each given a support plan to help them come to terms with their circumstances and move forward whilst waiting to be re-housed.
Key workers undertake regular one-to-one sessions with women. These are known as key working sessions and are in line with the five ‘Supporting People’ outcomes:
1. Enjoy and achieve
2. Achieve economic well-being
3. Be healthy
4. Make a positive contribution
5. Stay safe
In addition to keyworking, our refuges offer a range of additional sessions which are aimed at helping women to enjoy their time and increase their confidence and well-being. Sessions include talking therapies, exercise classes, art classes, cook and eat projects and recently residents took part in a six week long modelling course.
Advocacy & Outreach
Our Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) are trained specialists whose primary concern is the safety of domestic abuse victims. While IDVAs will accept all referrals, their focus is on providing a service to victims at medium to high risk of harm, to address their safety needs and help manage the risks that they face.
Our service provides short-term (average of three months) intensive support to help victims, many who are still within the abusive relationship, break free from domestic violence. If you need the service you can contact us either by calling our helpline or by a referral from a professional agency. You will then be offered a risk assessment so that we can ascertain your level of need. If your risks are high enough then you will receive support from this team (if your risks are lower then we can still help you as you will be referred to our in-house, fully trained outreach workers).
Your IDVA will work with you to assess your level of risk and to help you plan so that if your risk level increases further you can escape safety and quickly. The IDVA will also advocate on your behalf so that you can access local support agencies, such as Solicitors, Housing Associations, health care, the police and fire service which can all help to protect you and your children.
Your IDVA can also help you if you want to bring your abuser to justice and can attend the Specialist Domestic Violence Courts with you so that you have the support you need. In addition to our core team, specialist IDVAs also offer:
- Help for victims of domestic abuse from BAME community groups
- Help for victims who are pregnant or who have recently had a baby- this work is funded by the Big Lottery.
- Help for victims of domestic abuse from Eastern European community groups
- Help for victims of domestic abuse who also misuse drugs and/or alcohol
We provide a confidential outreach service for female victims of domestic abuse whose risk has been assessed as low to medium. We expect to support these clients on a longer term basis by offering advice, signposting and referring to other agencies where appropriate. We understand the difficulties victims have to face and can help them access the necessary services to keep themselves and their children safe.
Support for Males:
We recognise that men can also be victims of domestic violence. In-fact the latest government statistics show that domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men. To support male victims we provide a male CAADA trained Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) who can provide one-to-one support to male victims of abuse whose case has been assessed as high to medium risk of serious harm.
This service is open to all male victims regardless of sexuality, race or social class. The male IDVA will work with the victim to help reduce his immediate safety risks and to support him to secure a conviction against his perpetrator (if appropriate and with the victim’s consent) through the specialist domestic violence courts. The male IDVA also works with local community groups including local schools to raise awareness of male victims of domestic abuse as there is still a stigma associated with type of abuse.
Our dedicated, award winning Children’s Services Team offers specialised support for children and young people suffering directly, or indirectly, from the effects of domestic abuse.
A regularly reviewed timetable offers a variety of activities including:
- Mother and toddler groups
- Parenting Support Project and Parenting Clinics
- Baby clinics and a health visitor service
- After-school clubs
- Play therapy
- Young Person’s Support groups
- Activity nights
- Healthy living workshops
In order to ensure the safety of children and young people in our care, we follow official guidelines that inform our planning, assessment and intervention work. These include the Every Child Matters Outcomes (2004), The National Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (2008) and the Children Act (2004).
Berkshire East & South Bucks Women’s Aid is registered with OFSTED, for promoting and monitoring excellence in child care, and our memberships also include the National Children’s Bureau, the Children’s Rights Alliance, the Social Care Association, the Council for Voluntary Services and the Berkshire Association for Clubs for Young People.
We endorse ‘Positive Intervention for Children Affected by Domestic Abuse’ (PICADA), which remains a successful program offering a 12-week rolling support group for mothers and children suffering from domestic abuse.
Prevention work in schools has also been vital to the work of the Children’s Services. We have developed a workshop using the Expect Respect toolkit and consultation work with the children comprising exercises to encourage children to discuss domestic abuse and acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
Berkshire East & South Bucks Women’s Aid provides a full Resettlement programme to support survivors of domestic abuse when they leave refuge, including a pack with the contact details of vital local services such as doctors, schools and utilities. We also offer survivors continued advice and emotional support until they feel confident enough to live their lives independently.
We encourage attendance at a local service called the ‘Freedom Programme’ for survivors to learn more about domestic abuse and recognise the tactics used by an abuser so that they can avoid abusive relationships in the future.
We have also developed a Survivors’ Group, launched in September 2009, to provide a network of support for all women who have survived domestic abuse. Representatives from the Police and other organisations provide talks on safety and other issues while a programme of fun events such as craft activities and poetry sessions help survivors to learn new skills and relax and unwind.