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Role Profile: GP Domestic Abuse Supporter Advisor

Lily is one of the team of  GP DASAs who work with GP surgeries across Cornwall, acting as their direct contact into Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence services. The scheme offers training to GP surgeries and professionals, to raise awareness of DASV and teach them how to ask the right questions and support people in the practice.

As well as her work with First Light, Lily runs a local CIC in Falmouth and Penryn called Gather. Gather is a community that offers yoga sessions, peer support gatherings and workshops for people who have experienced sexual trauma.

Lily sits on a boat, smiling

A key aim of the role is to engage GPs and GP surgery staff to take action against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence as a part of their standard practice, by ensuring they have the knowledge and toolkit to confidently ask routine questions around Domestic Abuse.

As well as this important work, GP DASAs also take referrals from GP surgeries, triage people who have been referred to them and carry out risk assessments. GP DASAs will also meet with clients who can only be seen in the surgeries, which can be a more discreet way to access help if you are in an abusive environment.

Lily and the GP DASA team are keen to collaborate and co-operate with other services. spend a lot of time working to promoting multi agency work and build relationships to encourage people to improve their service.

What do you like about your job?

Lily really values the diversity of the role, and enjoys working with all the different people and professionals she collaborates with. It’s really important to her to be able to support people who have been affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Client work. I guess just making an impact and knowing you’ve played a part in making things better for people. Advocating for vulnerable people, ensuring that some of the people who might otherwise slip through the net are receiving the support they need. Improving awareness of DA across health services and helping other agencies be more trauma aware.

Why First Light? Lily started volunteering on the helpline back in 2018. She was keen to learn more about working in this area, and to understand the services that exist in the county. Lily is passionate about supporting people affected by Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. In her spare time, she also runs a peer to peer mentoring community called Gather.

Tell us about Gather – Gather is a peer support community CIC based in Falmouth and Penryn, Cornwall. They support people impacted by sexual trauma. Lily and the team of facilitators run two monthly peer gatherings, one for women and one for LGBTQ+ people, and facilitate trauma informed yoga and other occasional workshops to help people process sexual trauma and connect with others in their area who have similar experiences.

Lily founded Gather in 2019 as a response to the lack of community support for people affected by Sexual Trauma, something she found isolating during her own journey with sexual trauma. Its a community run project with a board of five people, all with their own lived experience, who strive to create or maintain an accessible, inclusive, authentic, informal space for survivors to build their own support networks.

Find out more about Gather here: https://gathercornwall.co.uk/

We are currently recruiting for the GP DASA role. Click here to apply.

Role Profile: Health Independent Domestic Violence Advisor

Hope is the Health IDVA who works in Trelsike hospital, alongside her counterpart, Sarah, who works from Bodmin and across other Cornwall hospitals. Their roles are critical to integrating Domestic Abuse responses into general healthcare, intervention and offering people in abusive situations a safe space and a listening ear.

The First Light Health IDVAs are based within the safeguarding teams across the hospitals. Any alerts that come to the safeguarding teams from any of the wards that may be domestic abuse cases are passed on to the health IDVA, who will then pay a visit to the patient.

Their role is to offer a listening ear, and to triage the patient, and support patients whilst they are in hospital to make sure they are as safe as possible and that they are safe for discharge. Once they are discharged, they will be referred to a Domestic Abuse support worker if necessary, or into other support services to help them stay safe.

Why do you think your role is important?

It’s a vital role to reach parts of the community that can otherwise be overlooked. A High proportion of cases are elderly people, or women visiting the maternity ward.

People coming into A&E with injuries that don’t add up offers an opportunity to intervene and offer support, in a safe location away from abusive homes. The health role doesn’t just include people who present physical illnesses, we also work with people who are entering mental health facilities.

Offering the appointments in the hospital or health institution also offers the chance to meet with a Domestic Abuse support worker discretely. There are many reasons people do not reach out for help, so proactive roles like the Health IDVA are crucial in bridging the gap between people experiencing abuse and the support they need. These roles allow for crisis point intervention, and for outreach to hard-to-reach communities.

Why First Light?

Hope likes the idea of being able to improve someone’s life and show them that reaching out for help isn’t scary. It’s so rewarding to show people that we are here to support them. It’s a real privilege to speak to people who have never spoken to anyone about their abuse and to be the person that represents their first steps on the way to recovery.

Role Profile: Neurodiverse Independent Sexual Violence Advisor

Claire is our Neurodiverse ISVA, working with neurodiverse clients and advising the team on how to ensure our services are accessible, understandable, and supportive for everyone who needs them.

Tell us about it:

Claire Lee is our Neurodiverse ISVA. She holds a caseload for the ISVA services to get on top of the Court Contact experience and understand the role better.

Neirodiversity is a broad spectrum, and so the way it affects people varies greatly. However, we know that neurodiversity can be a barrier to accessing the support that organisations offer to people have experienced Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. It can also be a reason people choose not to report to the police and have less trust in those institutions, sometimes due to a lack of proper understanding and training.

We created the Neurodiverse ISVA role to help people overcome those barriers and ensure we are equipped to support everyone who needs us. Claire strives to make sure that all of her clients feel listened to, supported and validated.

Many people who live with neurodiversity can be more vulnerable, and can require higher levels support to get through day to day life, so when they face the additional trauma and stress of Domestic Abuse or Sexual Violence, this can be harder to navigate. When facing a complex and inaccessible justice system, Claire hopes to demystify this process and ensure that her clients have a voice.

Claire says, ‘for neurodiverse people, being asked to navigate the legal system is like asking someone to climb mount Everest without a rope – but my job is to be the rope. We can’t make the mountain any smaller, but we can make it easier to reach the summit.’

Why do you think your role is important?

Claire likes working with all the different people and professionals as well as those who have been affected. Making an impact and knowing you’ve played a part in making things better for people make it worth it. Claire thinks it’s important to advocate for vulnerable people, ensuring that some of the people who might otherwise slip through the net are receiving the support they need. She’s also committed to improving awareness of DA across health services and helping other agencies be more trauma aware.

Role Profile: Children and Young Person’s ISVA

For the first of our ‘role profiles’, to highlight the breadth of our work across the 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, we sat down with Emma, our Children and Young Person’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor to find out more about this vital role and what it entails.

Tell us about your role:

Emma is the Children and Young People’s ISVA for mid-Cornwall. Emma is also a senior practitioner, which means alongside her role she also helps to support other ISVAs and answer any of their questions.

The CYP ISVA role exists to support anybody Under the age of 18 through the criminal justice process, all the way through from ‘report to court’, as well as supporting young people aged 16-18 to decide whether to report to the police in the first instance.

The main role of the ISVA is to give the young person a voice and to offer a single point of contact for young people at this difficult time. That can mean helping keep young people engaged with the process, explaining complex language in an accessible way, demystifying the justice system, or supporting them with other areas such as issues at school or relationships and family life. They’ll offer reassurance and support and can liaise with other organisations and make referrals, too. Young people will build a relationship with the same ISVA for the entire length of the ‘support to court’ process.

CYP ISVAs work with people from the ages of 0-18, so a lot of the role is also offering support and reassurance to parents.

Why do you think your role is important?

Children who’ve been affected by trauma can sometimes be missed out of the process, even though they are the person who has experienced the trauma. It’s not uncommon for young people not to be updated by parents, for many reasons, sometimes in an effort to protect them – however, this doesn’t always give young people the agency they need or the opportunity to ask questions. This is particularly important for cases involving the police, as by standard practice the police will liaise with parents of a minor rather than the young person themselves.

For a young person, then, an ISVA can be the person they ask any questions to, no matter what about – and who will explain what’s going on to them. This also gives them a voice if they want to advocate for themselves, and to understand their rights. It’s important too for them to have an empathetic person involved in the process who doesn’t represent An Institution.

Why First Light? Emma has been with FL for 6 years. It’s a subject she’s always been passionate about, having previously worked as a crisis worker for a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. Becoming an ISVA was a job progression she really wanted to make. It might be a tough role, but it’s so rewarding. Emma is passionate about improving the lives of young people who’ve had a rough time, and she loves the work and the diversity of the role. It’s truly a job where no day is the same.

To make a referral, visit: https://www.firstlight.org.uk/isva-referral/

Or call 03458 12 12 12

First Light’s Impact 2021/11

Take a look at what we achieved last year.

For more information, statistics, case studies and information on our funders, you can Read the full report here.

Impact report statistics

Support for victims and survivors of church-related abuse to continue long term with new independent provider First Light

The Church of England, The Church in Wales and The Catholic Church in England and Wales are pleased to announce ongoing support for victims and survivors of church-related abuse, through their Safe Spaces project, with newly appointed, independent provider First Light.

Safe Spaces is a free national support service which offers a confidential, personal, and safe space for anyone who has been abused through their relationship with either the Church of England, The Church in Wales or The Catholic Church in England and Wales, regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation.

First Light is an independent organisation with extensive experience in supporting those who have experienced or are experiencing sexual abuse or domestic violence, including survivors and victims of church-related abuse.

First Light have been appointed by the Board of Trustees Of Safe Spaces England and Wales (SSEW) after a rigorous and highly competitive tender process.

The Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, a Trustee of SSEW said: “Safe Spaces provides a vital support service to those who have been affected by church-related abuse, and I am very pleased to be welcoming First Light as the new provider.

“This will build on the work of Victim Support during the pilot phase, and more recently FearLess (formerly Splitz Support Services) during the transition phase, and I would like once again to thank both these organisations for all they have done.

“I would like to reassure existing users of the service, who have already been notified of the change, that you will be supported during the transition to First Light.”

Jamie Harrison, a Trustee of SSEW, added: “We would like to thank all the survivors who have been with us every step of the way from developing the initial brief to interviewing potential suppliers. Their insight and support has been vital.”

Bishop Paul Mason, Safeguarding Lead for the Catholic Church, Board Member of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) and a Trustee of SSEW said: “The impact of abuse can be complex and life-long. It is vital that victims have a source of support from an independent body who specialise in this area. We have complete confidence that First Light will deliver this service in the long term and will make a difference for those who need it. We would like to thank every survivor who has worked with us to help ensure a continuity of support and excellence of service”

Lyn Gooding, Chief Executive of First Light said: “Our trained staff are ready to be there for any victim or survivor of church-related abuse. We know that Safe Spaces is needed, we are committed to the project for the long-term and we could not be more proud to take up this vital work.”

Service users can expect a seamless transition from interim providers FearLess (formerly Splitz Support Service) which followed a successful two-year pilot of the Safe Spaces project run by Victim Support. All current service users will be contacted individually to talk through relevant information, options and to answer any questions. They can expect continuity in accessing support.

Safe Spaces can be contacted at Safe Spaces England and Wales T:0300 303 1056