Our last blog was a bit of an introduction to how the new Domestic Abuse Team in Central Bedfordshire is shaping up. This week we thought we’d share a little bit more about the things we’re doing day to day to challenge the domestic abuse that goes on in our communities and to improve the experiences of victims all over Central Bedfordshire.
A day in the life of the Domestic Abuse Team – Strategic Manager Joy Piper;
Joy is on the end in the blue dress!
I’m an early riser so my day starts early, I am usually logged on and checking my email at around 7.30am. This gives me a bit of peace and quiet to answer any queries that have come in overnight and respond to requests while I’m having my coffee. I also tend to use the time to check my team’s diaries and send them information or support for whatever they are doing that day.
Once I’m in the office my day is generally guided by our ever growing team action plan. A lot of my time in the office is spent writing reports to deadlines for boards, charities and voluntary sector meetings. There is a lot of voluntary agencies and charities doing amazing work in our communities across the borough that need our support. Part of my role is to respond to those needs; to answer any questions professionals or our partners have and to help partners overcome barriers to resources or support. So I am often out and about in the community observing good practice or small projects that need support to grow in order to meet the needs of the every growing number of people who seek support as a result of domestic abuse.
I always make time for lunch and it’s usually a jacket potato with cheese and beans. Cheese first of course 😉
The rest of my day is spent focused on our Domestic Abuse Corporate plan and refreshing our Domestic Abuse action plan. Challenging Domestic Abuse is a priority for Central Bedfordshire Council. Moving it up the agenda and raising the profile of the agencies and charities that work with domestic abuse involves a lot of networking. It means making sure I’m getting into the right meetings, raising the right issues at the right time as well as challenging organisations where practices are no longer helpful to victims, or where learning is needed.
Sometimes I will get calls from managers who have employees who are experiencing domestic abuse and want to know how they can best support them. As a result of these enquiries I am currently trying to develop a responsive staff policy for supporting employees and a separate one for managers detailing what they can do to support any member of their team who is experiencing domestic abuse and needs support.
Improving the knowledge and expertise in dealing with domestic abuse has meant spending lots of time developing a training schedule. Along with Debbie Crawford at the learning academy we’ve worked out a training programme which will be embedded in the learning directory from September. We know that getting training right is key for moving the whole council forward in the way they perceive and respond to domestic abuse.
When I get home Loki our 5 year old German Shepard is there to greet me and generally harass me into taking him out for a walk, perfect end to the busy, productive days in the team.
The Domestic Abuse team at Central Bedfordshire has had a bit of a make-over in the last few months with a new team-member starting in February, April May and June. We had our first full team meeting last week where we put together the team’s vision and aims and are now ready to formally introduce you all to the team’s new faces;
Joy Piper is the team’s strategic manager and the driving force behind all the work the team will be doing. Joy makes sure that domestic abuse is on everyone’s agenda at a corporate level. Joy is the main strategic link with all our partners making sure victims are safe and perpetrators are held to account
Laura Willingale is the Domestic Abuse team business support officer otherwise known as the centre of the team. Laura is the one that holds all the threads of the team projects, steering groups and forward planning together; and the diary, which is imperative otherwise we’d never know where anyone else actually is.
Tracy Mintern is our Domestic Abuse Engagement officer. Tracy is the front facing point of contact for our team. Tracy manages all our communications, so is responsible for the new posters you may have noticed on your noticeboards. Tracy will also be managing our newsletter and social media pages on Facebook and Twitter making sure all our local events, news and campaigns are updated regularly.
The team run several donation drops for hygiene boxes, where boxes of toiletries are made up from donations for women in refuges. If you would like to donate any new and unused toiletries please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Tracy or the email the BDAP inbox (email@example.com)
Tracy will also be organising awareness raising training sessions for any agencies or teams that would like a bit more information on domestic abuse and topics like changes in law and the local and national support available for victims. If you feel this would be useful for your team again please feel free to get in touch with Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Nina Page is the teams Domestic Abuse Specialist Officer and coordinates the MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) for Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough. The meetings are held monthly in each borough and devise safety plans for victims at highest risk of domestic abuse. Nina is the specialist point of contact for professionals working with high risk victims of domestic abuse and can be contacted at MARACenquiries@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk . Nina also works with professionals and agencies helping shape new initiatives and ways of multi-agency working with professionals, reflecting on learning and improving practice.
Tene Edwards is the team MARAC administrator, Tene is the first point of contact for anyone referring into MARAC and is the person that answers or signposts all queries, ensures all information is shared across agencies, takes all the MARAC minutes and follows up all the actions.
This is a really exciting time for us as a service, we have a lot of projects and support services to share with colleagues to ensure the best services are available for all victims of domestic abuse regardless of gender, background, age or circumstance. Domestic Abuse is everyone’s concern and it is only through working collaboratively we can support victim to make positive changes, keep families safe and hold perpetrators to account.
We are very excited to finally be up and running and we are all really looking forward to working with you!
Last Thursday we held our first BDAP professionals event “Myth busting Beliefs and Stereotypes of Domestic Abuse”. We prepared the room, ordered the biscuits, hooked up the power points in council chambers at Priory House and nervously waited to see how many of the delegates we’d invited actually arrived. All in all 80 delegates from a range of statutory and voluntary settings attended. It was really inspiring to see so many people from so many different agencies together in one room all wanting to learn more about Domestic Abuse.
Our first speaker Jo Neale, was from the University of Bedford, she gave a really interesting talk on the myths and stereotypes that prevail in domestic abuse. She provided a list of further research and reading at the end of her talk. It was really informative and offered a great opportunity to reflect on what we know and what we think we know about Domestic Abuse.
Then we changed direction completely, the wonderful Spaniel in the Works visited and performed a short monologue from the perspective of a domestic abuse survivor. It was a powerful and compelling performance which bought the perspective and focus of the morning squarely back to the victim and their lived experience.
After a short break Central Bedfordshire’s Jayne Foster gave a rundown on some of the predominant findings to come out of a large piece of local research by Safer Lives into the experiences of families (victims, perpetrators and children) impacted by domestic abuse and their feedback on the subsequent involvement with professionals. Jayne linked aspects of this in with more wider reaching national research, giving a really good sense of what works and what isn’t working for the family’s we work with.
Finally we heard about Clare’s Law from Bedfordshire police. They gave us an insight into Clare’s story, how Clare’s law came about and then gave us an overview of how we can use and incorporate into our daily working practice.
There was opportunity for questions at the end and what was lovely was listening to the conversations going on at every table afterwards, before everyone had to leave to get back to their respective offices or visits. It felt like everyone who attended left with a little more knowledge than they arrived with and had been given the opportunity to reflect a little on their own skills, knowledge and practice. We really hope this was the case and are looking forward to hosting our next professional’s event later in the year.
If you have any feedback on the event, or have any ideas for future topics you would like us to cover or would like to attend future events please let us know at BDAP@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk