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Christmas opening hours 2022

Please note our Christmas opening hours for 2022

We’re here for you over the Christmas Holidays. We’ll be closed on the National Bank Holidays, and if you do need support on these dates you can contact the below numbers:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

National Rape Crisis Helpline 0808 802 9999

The Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre will remain open as usual and can be contacted 24/7 on 01793 781 916.

For the remainder of the break we will be operating reduced services, or on reduced opening hours. See below for details.

Friday 23rd December – Normal Working Day

Saturday 24th December – Christmas Eve

Sunday 25th December – Christmas Day

Monday 26th December – Bank Holiday

Tuesday 27th December – Bank Holiday

Wednesday 28th December

Thursday 29th December

Friday 30th December

Saturday 31st December – New Year’s Eve

Sunday 1st January – New Year’s Day

Monday 2nd January – Bank Holiday

Tuesday 3rd January

Normal Operating Hours

Domestic Abuse Helpline 9am – 3pm

CLOSED

CLOSED

Helpline 10:00 – 15:00

All Services 10:00 – 15:00

All Services 10:00 – 15:00

All Services 10:00 – 15:00

Helpline 09:00 – 15:00

CLOSED

Helpline 10:00 – 15:00

Normal hours resume

Role Profile: Outreach Independent Domestic Violence Advisor

Jen is the Outreach IDVA for Cornwall. The role supports clients who are experiencing domestic abuse and are at a high risk, but who also need support with other complexities like complex mental health needs, drug and alcohol dependencies, homelessness or offending behaviours. These complexities can make it much more difficult for people experiencing abuse to access mainstream services, which can have strict eligibility criterie.

Jen works closely with We Are With You, supporting their staff with domestic abuse cases, triaging clients into any services they may need, and taking cases on.

The Outreach role is extremely collaborative, and the team work with many partners across the statutory and charitable sector.

They work with Outreach team within Cornwall Council, so that when navigators and outreach workers contact the team with concerns, Jen will go out to meet the clients and triage them into referral services. A key part of this work is cultivating relationships with people and building trust. As Jen is often working with people at the most difficult time of their lives, trust is a key element of their relationships to clients and ensuring they get the proper support they need.

The outreach team also work with the Rough Sleeper operational group – offering them advice and guidance around domestic abuse.

In addition they sit on the on HVLS liaison panel, who work with people experiencing homelessness, working out the next steps, offering support with access to services. The panel group is made up of Mental Health professionals, clinicians, psychiatrists and other people working in the field.

It’s hard to list all the people they co-work with, but in addition to the organisations above they run drop in sessions and have good working relationships with;

  • adult social care
  • Pentreath
  • local One stop shops
  • Local police forces
  • women’s centres
  • rehabilitation facilities and more.
  • They can also triage referrals onto therapy or other professionals.

It’s an extremely varied role which ranges from talking to people and trulyhearing them, offering advice, and if necessary removing people from high risk situations.

Jen often works with people who experience added complexities in day-to-day life and in accessing services to meet their basic needs. This means advocating for people is a critical part of the role.

Why do you think your role is important?

Jen has worked with vulnerable people with additional complexities before and wanted to stay in this area. This is a group of people who can very often lose their voice and become a number, figure or even a nuisance. These people are going through something anyway – and are an exceptionally vulnerable group to domestic violence. But advocating for them allows us to give them their voice back. People need to feel listened to and heard.

It’s also critical to work with the police to change that culture. Mainstream services can often cut people off with strict criteria and stigma makes this more severe, so it’s important toJen to work to break down that stigma.

Jen also always tries to maintain the availability and access to be able to give those clients the time and attention they need. Providing a link for them to access the services they have a right to access, and being a consistent source of support.

Why First Light?

It’s a challenging role. But those people need our support the most so it’s so rewarding.

I wanted to work in this field as I have personal lived experience, and I’ve specialised in safeguarding and working with complex women in other roles. It’s a dream job, merging the client base I love working with, with the areas I want to specialise in. I want to help the people who need it the most. Very supportive environment and that makes all the difference.

To speak to one of our Outreach team, call our helpline on 0300 8 777 4 777

Kori and Ezra talk life as a survivor at the Male Survivors National Conference

We heard from many inspiring voices at our Male Survivors National Conference back at the start of November. One of the most powerful talks was this conversational presentation from Kori and Ezra; both male survivors of childhood sexual violence, and powerful advocates for dedicated support of male survivors, ending sexual violence, and systemic change.

Kori runs an instagram where he advocates for survivors, and Ezra works for moMENtum, an organisation that facilitates peer support networks and groups for male survivors.

If you have been affected by and of the issues discussed in this video, please contact any of the following organisations for support:

https://www.firstlight.org.uk/for-you/ – We offer dedicated support for male victims of sexual trauma is available through trauma informed therapy, or with an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor who can support people through the Criminal Justice process.

We have dedicated team members in the following roles to ensure people can access gender-specific support if they need to.

Male Children and Young Persons’ Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, who works with survivors of sexual violence under the age of 18 going through the criminal justice process.

Male Domestic Abuse Support Advisor, who supports male victims of domestic abuse.

Male Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, who works with adult male survivors of both historic and recent sexual violence, who are going through the criminal justice process or would like advice on whether this is the right path for them.

Other partner organisations in the South West offering Male Specific support is available from the below organisations:

Operation Emotion is a Plymouth based charity that provides services for adult male survivors of sexual abuse, linking with specialist organisations where appropriate. We do not work with perpetrators of sexual abuse.

moMENtum is a mutual support group for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We meet as equals for support and to gain an understanding of ourselves and to share information and resources.

Our Specialised LGBTQ+ Support Team

Row Barber (They/Them), Our LGBTQ+ Independent Domestic Violence Advisor 

The LGBTQ+ IDVA role has been running for a year now, and Row works across Cornwall in partnership with the Intercom Trust, and a counterpart role that covers the Devon area.
Giving a voice to LGBTQ+ Survivors is at the heart of the role. There is a real need to have a strong presence advocating for people within queer community to be able to access all the services that everyone else can. It’s really important for LGBTQ+ people to have support and understanding from someone who can identify with, and help them to overcome the stereotypes and assumptions that can so often be made about their gender or sexual identity.  

Kim Jewell (she/her) is our LGBTQ+ Independent Sexual Violence Advisor

The essence of Kim’s role is creating connection within the LGBTQ+ community and making them aware of the support that’s available to them – working with clients within the LGBTQ+ community and build a good working relationship with local LGBTQ+ support services and organisations.

Kim is putting the groundwork into building those networks so people feel they’re able to come forward and there will be specific LGBTQ support for them when they do.

By working in an LGBTQ+ specific role, Row and Kim ensure that, at an extremely difficult time in their lives, LGBTQ+ survivors are understood.

It’s really important that, whilst also processing their experiences, people don’t also have to advocate for themselves or find themselves explaining some of the complexities that come with different types of relationships, or the barriers that come with accessing services. This is particularly challenging for trans people and people who identify with a gender that is not binary.  

We also recognise that we may not have all the tools to support someone’s complex needs, and so we also work in close partnership with other organisations, meaning we can signpost to community groups and supporting services that are more suitable or comfortable for the person.  

These are extremely important roles, which go back to the idea that the community is underrepresented in the support services that are available. The roles were created specifically to give the community a voice.

Row hopes to lessen some of the demands placed on LGBTQ+ survivors so that they can focus on taking steps towards a future free from abuse.  

Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, Kim hopes that people feel like their support team can empathise with the queer experience and that will make them feel more comfortable coming forward and seeking support.

Feedback from clients shows that knowing that Kim belongs to that community has really benefitted them, because ‘you just get it’.

Partnership with the Intercom Trust for the LGBTQ+ IDVA Role:
Row is employed by First Light but the role is designed to complement and to run alongside The LGBTQ+ support offered by The Intercom Trust.

This works in partnership with the Intercom Trust’s focus in Cornwall, which includes outreach into schools and supporting young LGBTQ+ people with some of the challenges they face. They also offer practical support with accessing queer resources – where there is a particular need to support trans people to access the healthcare they need.

Why First Light?

Row: It’s important for people to feel represented and understood, and feel like their advocate ‘gets’ them, so they don’t have to explain the LGBTQ+ aspects of their lives.  A significant proportion of Queer people face barriers to being accepted for who they are, and to living their lives without additional oppressions every single day. To have to navigate these barriers during a traumatic time can become overwhelming.

Kim: I have personal lived experience, and as a member of a particularly high risk community I’ve unfortunately always been surrounded by sexual violence and of supporting others through it. I think for me, the best thing about my job is that it’s allowing me to take a really bad experience that myself and people I know have been through, and being part of the change. Taking the worst thing that could happen and making something positive come of that. And that when it comes to clients, I can truly say ‘I understand’.

If you’d like to be supported by one of the LGBTQ+ Team at First Light, call our helpline on 03008 444 7 444

Role Profile: Volunteer Mentor

Linda is a volunteer mentor with First Light.

Prior to COVID Linda volunteered on the Safer Futures helpline. The challenges of lockdown led to a new way of working for volunteers; we identified a necessity to work remotely and to be responsive to individuals affected by DASV during a particularly isolating time. We acknowledged a need to support  and listen to those who would benefit from a little extra time, to be heard and validated. Consequently during the Pandemic, Linda piloted a successful mentor programme based on these values and it continues to thrive and develop. Linda was recently nominated for the BBC Make A Difference Awards for the incredible part she played in the programme ; recognising the generosity, time and kindness, and all that she brings to the role.

Mentors provide a telephone listening role for adults who have experienced recent or historic Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. Referrals come through the helpline, and often people access the mentoring scheme whilst awaiting another service.

The scheme is carried out over an average of 5 weeks, and creates a regular, safe space for people to share what’s worrying them, any concerns.

Mentors speak on the phone to their clients each week for up to an hour, making regular contact. It’s great for people who are perhaps without social support, with no friends or family or who for whatever reason don’t want to speak to other people around them. They have an opportunity to share something safely without having to involve family or friends. The regular sessions mean the mentors can build a rapport up, and over this time they really see people being able to chat more freely and gain confidence, empowering themselves to continue their journeys to recovery.

It’s important to fill the gaps when people are waiting for other services and the Mentoring scheme gives them something in-between. It’s not a counselling service, so it can feel more accessible, and offers a more casual and less clinical relationship.

People are usually quite nervous, and it’s really appreciated how kind and understanding the mentors are. Some people don’t need counselling or other support services, so the mentors allow them the opportunity just to be able to voice their concerns, fears and share with a non-judgemental person.

Not to mention, you get to know and speak to some really lovely people.

Why First Light?

Some time ago I had been a support worker for Splitz (now FearLess) and really enjoyed working one to one with people. I heard that First Light were advertising for volunteers and I felt from my past experience with Splitz that I understood many of the issues that affect victims of Domestic Abuse and hoped I still had something to offer as a volunteer.  Following that, the wonderful training brought me up to scratch and it’s great to be able to give back. It’s a lovely team of mentors, and it really is clear we’re making a real difference which is great to know.

If you’d like to volunteer with First Light find out more here.

Role Profile: Helpline Advisor

Marie works on the Helpline at First Light, as well as practicing as a counsellor and teaching counsellors in training.

Prior to taking on the helpline role, she underwent her counselling training with the First Light Plymouth Therapy team. Whilst studying for her Level 5 in Counselling, Marie was awarded student of the year. 

The helpline is the first point of contact for anyone experiencing Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, who’ve taken the first step to asking for help, support and safety. The helpline team take calls, work through referrals from other agencies, and stay in contact with people who haven’t been referred onto another service yet. One they’ve got to know callers and their situations, Marie and the team will triage people and ensure they’re referred into the onward support that they need.

You can contact the helpline on 0300 777 4 777

We’re open between 9am and 9pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

Why do you think your role is important?

The Helpline is the first point of contact for someone – so it’s so important to be there when someone needs you. By picking up the phone, people calling have taken the step to reach out, and they need someone to be warm at the end of the phone and to be a reliable point of support.

How does a therapy placement with First Light work?

Before starting work on the Helpline, Marie was a Counsellor in Training with First Light’s therapy team in Plymouth – in the second year of the qualification, students have to do 100 placement hours. First Light are one of the best placements to have – second to none, both in the level of the training and the quality of the leadership. After every session they are supported to chat to and debrief. Worked with a wide range of clients, of all genders so it’s a great range of experience. Marie really liked the organisation, very professional and always felt there was someone around – which is why she’s back now!

Why First Light: Marie really wanted to give something back, after the support received through the training with the Plymouth team.

We’re currently recruiting for the helpline team. Find out more and apply here.