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Monday 15 March 2010

A Trip Down Downing Street – Cheshire East Council

Photo Caption:
(From left to right) Judith Gibson, Cheshire Domestic Abuse Partnership strategic coordinator; Police Chief Superintendent Craig Guildford, chair of Cheshire West and Chester Domestic Abuse Partnership strategic management group; Mickey Hemming, acting manager of Crewe Women’s Aid.

Popping in to the Prime Minister’s next door neighbours proved a hit with Cheshire East Council staff.

Number 11 Downing Street beckoned after the council was short-listed for a local government award.

Cheshire Domestic Abuse Partnership was nominated for a Local Innovation Award for all the good work it has achieved in protecting and supporting families suffering domestic abuse.

Judith Gibson, Cheshire Domestic Abuse Partnership strategic co-ordinator, said even though the council didn’t win the top prize, the experience was unforgettable.

She said: “An invitation to Number 11 is quite an honour and we certainly enjoyed the moment when we climbed into a taxi at Euston and said ‘Downing Street’ please.

“However, our overwhelming emotion was one of feeling privileged at representing thousands of women, men and children for whom domestic abuse is a daily experience.

“As staff we support their determination to get a better life for their families – the really hard work in surviving abuse is all theirs.”

The council was short-listed for the ‘Achieving More through Partnership’ category, which Northumberland Council took home.

The judges of the Local Innovation Awards, hosted by the Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP, were particularly impressed by the cost-effectiveness of the Domestic Abuse Family Safety Unit’s work. For every £1 spent on its services, the public purse is saved £14. The judges also commended the range and quality of children’s support.

Councillor Paul Findlow, Cabinet member with responsibility for children and family services, said: “When people experience domestic abuse their whole lives can be shattered. As well as protection from the abuser, they often need help with health, housing, parenting and a range of other issues.

“Getting this package right is essential for recovery and we’re very proud of our local services, which enable people to get back control of their lives.”

The Cheshire Domestic Abuse Partnership is a shared service between Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West and Chester until the end of March.

Last year police attended 5,000 incidents in Cheshire East, West and Chester and 500 adults were identified as at risk of serious harm or murder and offered a range of support. Only a quarter of serious incidents were actually reported to the police.

An anonymous domestic abuse victim, who has relied on the partnership, said: “It made such a difference to me knowing that in times of great stress, when everything got too much, there was someone at the other end of the telephone who understood your problems and who could give you practical advice and support.”

Councillor Roland Domleo, Cabinet member with responsibility for adult services, said: “Being short-listed for this award recognises the importance we place on working in partnership to support those who face domestic abuse. One single service cannot effectively provide such services and co-ordination of response and support is essential.”

If anyone has concerns about domestic abuse they can phone a 24-hour free national helpline on 0808 2000 247 or, during the day, the Family Safety Unit on 01606 351375.

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