Cheshire East Council staff, service users and partner agencies joined together to inspire and challenge one another to improve the ways domestic abuse and sexual violence are responded to.
The event held at Middlewich Community Church, which was themed around ‘change’, was organised by the Cheshire East Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership (CEDSAP) and marked White Ribbon Day (November 25), otherwise known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Those who attended the event listened to the experiences of people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence and considered how the services being offered could be changed as a result.
How services can work better together and how people with complex and multiple needs are being supported were discussed, as well as how services are working with those who harm to ‘change the root cause’ of the problem and increase the safety of both adults and children.
Attendees also learned about new tools and resources available to support very young children and those in school and heard from Saskia Ritchie, chief executive of Cheshire Without Abuse.
The charity has been supporting families affected by domestic abuse for 40 years and marked this milestone during a gala dinner earlier this month. During the gala they chose to celebrate the commitment of six individuals, agencies and organisations, who they believe make a significant difference locally in helping to tackle domestic abuse – CEDSAP was one of them.
Saskia said: “Over the last 40 years we are proud to have forged strong relationships with partners as a core member of Cheshire East Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership.
“Events such as this provide an invaluable opportunity for us to get together, share learning and explore new ways of working, so that together we can help more people open the door to safety and support them through the challenges they face.
“Service users are the experts in what help and support is needed, so it’s also important that they help shape all that we do.”
The partnership’s long-term vision for tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence was launched today (November 24). Attendees also heard about Operation Enhance, an early-intervention initiative being undertaken by Cheshire police and the Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) service.
The initiative runs during weekends and Monday daytimes – often the peak periods for reported domestic abuse incidents – and allows the police and IDVAs to see victims in the immediate aftermath of an incident, when they need support to think through their choices and plans to be safe.
A dedicated police officer and an IDVA jointly assess the domestic abuse incidents reported and carry out face-to-face follow-up visits to each victim, providing specialist information, advice and support.
The initiative builds on the range of services already offered in Cheshire East that support both those who are affected by domestic abuse – victims and their families – and those who need to change abusive behaviours.
Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “Domestic abuse can happen to anyone – no matter who you are, your gender, background, what you do or where you live – and tackling it remains a top priority in Cheshire East.
“Events such as today’s inspire new conversations about how we can work with services, users and our partners to help people as early as possible in their experience of an unhealthy relationship – encouraging them to take the first steps to support.”
If you are affected by domestic abuse or you are concerned for someone else, call Cheshire East’s domestic abuse hub on 0300 123 5101 at any time. In an emergency, always call 999.
For more information about White Ribbon Day, visit: www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk