Back

Women's Aid 'One Stop Shop' - A Helping Hand For Victims of Domestic Violence

I attended the Women's Aid event on Tuesday 8 March to help launch their new "one-stop shop", the idea being to develop a network of services (outreach, housing assistance, debt advice, legal advice, police support) etc in one place for women experiencing domestic abuse, rather than the women having to try to locate and access these services themselves.
 
The new website is http://www.wrexhamwomensaid.org.uk/
 
It was launched by Tim Vincent (former Blue Peter presenter, Miss World presenter and Dancing on Ice star - although I had to google him beforehand!) who is from Wrexham originally.
 
The event was attended by local councillors, the Police, Social Services, Age Concern and Barnardos among others.
 
There were short presentations by the main regional coordinator for DV services, the leader of the Safer Communities Partnership, Women's Aid's Financial Director then myself and Councillor Aled Roberts before Tim Vincent formally launched the website.
 
I based my brief talk around my estimate that I had seen about 175 women at the drop-in centre in the last couple of years and how, at first glance, this is an alarming figure of women experiencing abuse in one town but, on the other hand, is positive in that 175 women have been brave enough to confront a taboo and acknowledge they are experiencing domestic abuse, then seek help for it.  I emphasised the supportive atmosphere and the knowledge of the drop-in centre staff and the benefit for women, some of whom may have had to flee from elsewhere in the country, of being able to get all their support in one place quickly rather than try to identify places and resources for themselves at an already difficult time.
 
In the afternoon I attended a taster session of the Freedom course, with 8 other professionals.  The Freedom Course has been running in Shropshire and Wrexham for a number of years and I have been referring women onto it for about 5 years.  Many have benefited from it and gone on to become course leaders themselves, an incredible achievement for a woman who might have spent years being told by an abusive partner that she is stupid, worthless, etc......
 
http://www.wrexhamwomensaid.org.uk/information/freedom-programme
 
Even though all the professionals there are experienced DV workers and we tend to think that we have heard it all from clients, some of the examples and stories we heard were real eye-openers.  This is not because of the physical severity but just because of the subtle nature of the abuse, for example husbands who photograph the bed every morning and if it looks at all different when they come home then they would assume the woman has had another man there and may beat her up, or the man who bought his partner a new expensive mobile phone and the Women's Aid staff checked it and found, as they suspected, that it had been fitted with a tracking device so he could keep tabs on her. Another woman had to take a photograph of herself in the supermarket and text it to her boyfriend if she took any more than 20 minutes with the shopping so he knew where she was.......  I could go on!
 
It was a challenging afternoon - even for those of us who are not experiencing this abuse and simply work with the victims of it, but a real eye-opener and I can honestly say that it made an immediate difference in the way I advised three women the following day.