Somerset domestic abuse service marks first anniversary

A new Somerset service offering support and safe places to stay for anyone needing help to escape domestic abuse is celebrating its first anniversary.

Since 2015 Knightstone Housing, working in partnership with Barnardo’s, has run the Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse (SIDAS) service, which is commissioned by Somerset County Council.

The service provides a single point of contact for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, whether as a victim or as a perpetrator and it is also the first contact for professionals making referrals, and any members of the public who want advice about domestic abuse.

With twenty three refuge units and five safe houses across Somerset, Knightstone has been able to provide a safe place to stay for people needing to escape domestic abuse.

The Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse (SIDAS) service offers motivational change programmes for perpetrators of violence and victims. The programme for perpetrators called ‘Lifeline’ has so far worked with 16 people and 68 clients have attended the ‘Overcoming Abuse’ programme.

In May 2015 Knightstone launched the ‘GP Champions’ project in Somerset. The project is already helping to address the barriers that staff at GP surgeries face when they are identifying victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Since the project began 374 medical professionals have been trained and there has been a significant increase in the number of referrals to the service from GP surgeries.

Cllr. Anna Groskop, Cabinet member with responsibility for public health, Somerset County Council said: “Domestic Abuse can affect everyone, whether directly through being in an abusive relationship or through witnessing a friend or relative experiencing abuse. It can affect people of all ages from young children to the elderly.

“The Archers storyline on Radio 4 has been highlighting domestic abuse recently, and many thousands of people have been moved by the story where the controlling Rob subjects Helen to emotional and physical abuse. This highlights just how abuse can manifest itself in many different ways. It can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse and it can happen to men and women.”

The Council works as part of the Safer Somerset Partnership to help keep people safe in Somerset and to reduce the fear of violence, whatever forms that may take.”

Sonia Furzland, Assistant Director of Supported Housing at Knightstone said: “So much has been achieved in the first 12 months and it is a testament to the commitment of our partners Barnardo’s Somerset County Council and colleagues working in the NHS.

“Domestic Abuse blights the lives of men and women and their children, but they are not alone. We are here to help, offering support, a place of safety and advice. We are really pleased that in our first year we have been able to help over 1,600 people affected by domestic abuse and their families through a particularly sensitive and difficult period in their lives. We will continue to provide this important support to those who need it.”

Jenny Lewis, Regional Assistant Director at Barnardo’s said: “It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with Knightstone. Our two organisations bring different specialisms and we have put them together in an effective integrated service.

“We are passionate about supporting children affected by domestic abuse to help them recover from the trauma they have endured and Barnardo’s have been able to support 121 children directly so far. The work to develop the Lifeline Perpetrator programme shows our determination to tackle domestic abuse at root cause by supporting perpetrators to change their behaviour.”

Anyone affected by domestic abuse should phone the local domestic abuse helpline on 0800 69 49 999 or visit http://www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk for a list of other contacts and advice. In an emergency always contact 999.

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