I started with IDAS 11 years ago as a Refuge Women’s Support Worker. After a couple of years, I moved over to become an ISVA. The ISVAs are our Independent Sexual Violence Advisers, working with people who have experienced sexual violence. Five years later I became the Lead of the project and I enjoyed developing the team and seeing the support we offer develop and grow. As I am sure you can imagine it is difficult work and is often harrowing seeing the worst humankind can do to others. Watching the ISVAs handle this without losing their compassion, supporting each other, maintaining their sense of self and their sense of humour leaves me to remember that where there is bad in the world, there is also good, I know this as I watch the team, and all of the staff in IDAS battling through every day, keeping the client’s needs front and centre.
I was then offered the exciting opportunity to become the Lead of the Respect team. This is an amazing project where a dedicated team of people support families where a child or young person has started to display abusive behaviours, either towards parents and siblings or within an intimate relationship. Seeing the amazing support they offer and listening to the feedback they get back from the 100s of families they have worked with has been awe-inspiring. Seeing the team come together and overcome the adversities that we have all had to endure, to see them changing the way they work to ensure the families still got support through Covid was truly awe-inspiring.
Then I also became the Lead on the MAWFA project. This is the Multi Agency Whole Family Approach Working with Children and Young People who have been affected by domestic abuse. In this project we are not working with just one individual but with the whole family. This approach will hopefully make a massive difference in the lives of the young people and hopefully will bring the cycle of domestic abuse in their life to a stop.
However, this project doesn’t just stop there; we are also undertaking a massive research project looking at what support for young people and families who experience domestic abuse and looking at what is needed to plug the gap. The hope is with this research we can help to change the lives of future for many young people.
As part of my role, I attended the CPS rape Scrutiny last week. This is where CPS (the Crown Prosecution Service) invite a number of independent people, in this case it is mainly ISVAs from the Yorkshire and Humber area. This is the first time in over two years we have been able to meet face to face.
We go through different cases looking at where things went wrong, where there is good practice and what could have been done differently. I have been attending these meetings for a couple of years and I see first- hand what a difference they make. CPS take back the findings, and thoughts of the members of the group and use them to actually make a difference in the way they work. Often trials and the criminal justice process can be incredibly challenging and frustrating, and it feels that there is little we can do to change things, however attending these meetings and speaking to like minded people who want change, who are willing to fight and work so hard to make things right for clients is humbling.
I am proud every day of the work I do and to be able to work for an organisation with people who care and work tirelessly to make things as good as they can be.