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May 2021 Newsletter

Message to supporters from  Lyn Gooding First Light CEO

Lyn Gooding First Light CEODear supporter

I thought I would take this opportunity to provide an insight into First Light over the last twelve months.

Having to navigate a global pandemic whilst also trying to maintain services at a particularly crucial time has been far from easy. But despite all that, with the support of our commissioners, funders, individual donors and partners, we have not only succeeded in maintaining services, albeit delivered differently, we have also still found time to innovate and collaborate in response to new and emerging areas of need.

The Year 2020-21

The year started with the majority of staff across the service working remotely, with the exception of the Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and our Safer Futures helpline response team.

Across the service First Light received a total number of 8,453 referrals for help and support,
an increase of 1,018 referrals (14%) on the previous year.

The pandemic also brought with it a number of funding opportunities to help try and mitigate the impact and increased demand.

As a result, we were able to introduce a number of new services which included;

  • The introduction of live web chat which provides a safe means of communication for those living in fear at home who were suffering abuse.
  • A new partnership with Coodes Solicitors who are providing free weekly legal clinics to clients experiencing domestic abuse
  • The Safe Parent Pilot supporting parents of children who had been sexually abused
  • Our volunteer mentoring pilot supporting clients who were experiencing domestic abuse
  • Working with Devon & Cornwall police to provide a domestic abuse safety car pilot on Friday and Saturday nights, providing a follow up response to incidents the night they are reported
  • The introduction of an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) triage post providing quality initial support to clients referred into the ISVA service
  • The introduction of a Crisis Support Advocate within the SARC supporting clients who were on a waiting list for ISVA support following referral from the SARC.

Funding has also enabled the organisation to expand services, they include:

  • An additional Children’s and Young Persons Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) to support more children and young people in Cornwall affected by domestic abuse and childhood sexual exploitation (CSE).
  • Assertive Outreach IDVA to work with drug and alcohol organisation We Are With You supporting people.
  • Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) Triage which will enable quicker support for people affected by sexual violence.
  • Male ISVA giving people the a choice of who supports them.
  • Complex Needs ISVA supporting people affected by sexual violence who have other complex needs.
  • Crisis Support Advocate to support people in Swindon after they have been to the sexual assault referral centre (SARC).
  • Recovery Pathway Administrator to help reduce waiting times.
  • Helpline Response Team to extend operating hours into the evening and weekends.
  • Sessional Counsellors to expand capacity in the Recovery Pathway in Cornwall.

In partnership with Barnardo’s, we successfully secured the GP Intervention & Referral Pathway two year contract with Cornwall Council, which means we will be training and supporting GP Practices across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly helping primary care services identify and support people affected by domestic abuse.

So as you can see it has been a busy year for so many reasons but I am immensely proud of all our staff and volunteers, for their dedication, compassion and commitment, because without them the trauma of domestic abuse and sexual violence would be so much greater for those who have had to endure it, but also incredibly grateful for the support we have been given from donors great and small, as it is only through your generosity are we able to do what we do, so THANK YOU to each and every one of you.

Best wishes

Lyn

Our Fabulous Fundraisers:

We would like to say a massive Thank You to all the individuals who have undertaken a personal challenge during April and May including:

  • Kenya who raised a wonderful £368.75 undertaking a 30mile Coast to Coast cycle across Cornwall
  • Emily who raffled a piece of custom artwork raising a fabulous £585.73
  • Bruce who undertook a Grand National sweepstake raising £281.25
  • Juliet who undertook a whopping 1,083 mile virtual walk from Lands End to John O Groats raising £163.75
  • Jacqueline who undertook a 40 day ‘Outside Challenge’ raising £84.75
  • Sophie who is undertaking a staggering 300 mile run around the Cornish coast path during May. To check out how Sophie is getting on you can follow her journey here 
First challenges for First Light!

Our work has an amazing impact but there is so much more we want to do. Interested in helping to raise awareness of First Light whilst also generating funds to do more?  The 2021 First Challenges include:

  • 12,000 foot tandem skydive (various dates) in Perranporth, Honiton and Swindon
  • Bungee 150 foot with stunning views across the Atlantic coast in July
  • TrekFest 25k or 50k across the Brecon Beacons in September
  • 100 day challenge

For more information click here or contact [email protected]

Statement 22/04/2021

First Light Statement 22nd April 2021

We have become aware of a number of messages and posts circulating on social media originating from TikTok in the US which encourages men to perpetrate sexual violence on April 24th 2021. We understand from Devon and Cornwall Police there is no specific threat in Devon & Cornwall related to this shocking campaign.

It is clear from the influx of calls and messages we have received that the issue is causing a great deal of distress to our communities. It has been suggested that these threats of sexual violence are a hoax, however, it is a stark reality that the threat of sexual violence and abuse is very real within our society and needs to be both acknowledged and addressed as a matter of urgency.

We believe that sole responsibility lays with those that perpetrate violence and abuse but sadly because of the culture we live in today people still need to take measures to keep themselves safe. Safety information can be found here https://www.suzylamplugh.org/Pages/Category/personal-safety-advice

If anyone has been upset, worried or triggered by this, they can find details of specialist support services at firstlight.org.uk or sarchelp.co.uk.

Lyn Gooding

First Light CEO

March 2021 news

Our Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) has achieved Male Accreditation

“We are absolutely thrilled to have achieved the Male Accreditation via Lime Culture at the Wiltshire SARC. A huge amount of work has been put in and our Outreach Engagement Coordinator, Lewis Leggatt, has been pivotal in ensuring the evidence submitted was up to standard.

Pathways and resources have been put in place which have been specifically designed to support male survivors, and we continue to strive to gather feedback and input from males who have accessed the service. The team completed training with Survivors UK which was valuable in helping staff understand the different barriers and myths surrounding male rape; they are able to address self blame and male survivors are given a choice of a female or a male crisis worker.

One of the continuing challenges has been to gain valuable feedback from male clients, as often males report the crime years after it has happened so SARC support is not appropriate. We have relied on previous attendees and partner organisations to help us gather this information, and will continue to do so going forwards.

A huge well done from me to the whole Swindon & Wiltshire SARC team, this has absolutely been a team effort and I’m confident male survivors will receive excellent crisis support on attending the centre.”

Amy Mitchell
SARC Manager


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New Year, New Challenge!
Looking for a  challenge with altitude? Fancy a tandem jump from a plane or trekking across terrains with outstanding views? We have partnered with two event companies to bring you some exciting fundraising events… by doing something amazing, you can help change lives:

Whatever you choose to do in 2021 let it be amazing… For more information contact Cath at [email protected] 

January 2021 news

Message to supporters from  Lyn Gooding First Light CEO

Lyn Gooding First Light CEOWelcome to our first newsletter of 2021. I have to be honest the year has not had the best of starts for so many reasons. Tighter restrictions on mixing over Christmas and New Year followed by a third national lockdown brought with it a 50% + increase in  demand for our services across the board. I think the late changes to restrictions created a pressure cooker situation at home, which resulted in people reaching out for help and support over the Christmas period, which ordinarily in the past has been one of our quieter periods.

The impact of increased demand together with delays in our criminal justice system is resulting in increased caseloads for our Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy (ISVA) service. In December we received the highest number of referrals in the history of the service and sadly we now have in excess of 121 cases that are over two years old, with court cases now being scheduled for 2023.

Despite the increasing demands, we know there are still more people who are suffering in silence, who for whatever reason, do not reach out for support. Which is why we are launching a survey to help us understand what the barriers are and how we can improve our services still further to better meet people’s needs. We would be very grateful if you would give us a few minutes of your time to share your thoughts and complete the survey, the findings of which we will then share with you later in the spring.

In the meantime, thank you for your continued support, take care and stay safe.

Lyn

New Year, New Challenge!
Looking for a New Year challenge with altitude? Fancy a tandem jump from a plane or trekking across terrains with outstanding views? New for 2021 we have partnered with two event companies to bring you some exciting fundraising events… by doing something amazing, you can help change lives:

Whatever you choose to do in 2021 let it be amazing… For more information contact Cath at [email protected] 

Christmas opening hours

Please note our Christmas opening hours for 2020:

Our Swindon and Wiltshire SARC will still be operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Thursday 24th December 2020 – Christmas Eve

Friday 25th December 2020 – Christmas Day

Saturday 26th December 2020 – Boxing Day

Sunday 27th December 2020

Monday 28th December 2020 – Bank Holiday

Tuesday 29th December 2020

Wednesday 30th December 2020

Thursday 31st December 2020 – New Years Eve

Friday 1st January 2021 – New Year’s Day

Saturday 2nd January 2021

Sunday 3rd January 2021

Monday 4th January 2021

09:00 – 14:00

CLOSED

CLOSED

CLOSED

CLOSED

10:00 – 14:00

10:00 – 14:00

10:00 – 14:00

CLOSED

CLOSED

CLOSED

Normal hours resume

Newsletter – November 2020

Message to supporters from
Lyn Gooding First Light CEO

To say 2020 has been a challenging year would be putting it mildly, the global pandemic has massively impacted the work we do here at First Light. We have seen a significant increase in demand for our services across the board. Most notably calls to our helpline have increased from 2,406 in the first quarter of this year to 3,254 in the second quarter, while referrals to our therapy services have increased over 105% for the same period, with a particular focus on adults suffering domestic abuse, however we have also seen a 100% increase in people engaged in our Change for You programme, a programme for adults who display abusive behaviour within their relationships, which we feel is a real positive as it illustrates peoples motivations to want to change how they behave towards others.

To help us combat this demand we have been successful in securing a number of emergency COVID grants, from Barclays, BBC Children in Need, The National Lottery, Ministry of Justice, The Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner in both Devon & Cornwall and Wiltshire, Cornwall Community Foundation and Devon Community Foundation. The monies secured has enabled us to mobilise our services so that they could be delivered remotely, increase capacity across the service as well as provide PPE to our staff so that they can continue to deliver face to face support to our most vulnerable clients.

In addition to this we are particularly grateful to those of you who have helped fundraise and make donations to us this year. Your efforts and donations have helped us develop a number of areas including our volunteer base so that they can provide peer mentoring support to victims of domestic abuse. To demonstrate what difference your money makes, below is an extract from feedback we received from a client receiving peer mentoring support.

“It has been a hugely difficult situation for me and having someone to help you organise your thoughts at a time when you need it…Linda allowed me to do that… lockdown  made it like a pressure cooker and I had an unhealthy style of thinking…Your service is invaluable and Linda was brilliant.”

While it is difficult to predict what the future holds, rest assured First Light is in a strong position to continue its most valuable work helping to protect and safeguard all those people whose lives are affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence. So I wish to say a big THANK YOU to you all as your support really does help us make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Take care and stay safe

We are excited to release our Impact Report that showcases the amazing work achieved by First Light in 2019/20.

Safeguarding Car Trial

Domestic Abuse Safeguarding Car trial starts in Cornwall

Devon & Cornwall Police have partnered with First Light and have begun trialling a new approach to enhance support for the most high-risk domestic abuse victims across Cornwall

The dedicated unmarked vehicle will see an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and a plain clothes police officer deployed together to a domestic abuse incident. This will provide an immediate response to incidents of domestic abuse at the most critical point and allows the officers in attendance to provide the best support to the victim, whilst at the same time enable officers to gather quality evidence of offences and to provide a thorough risk assessment.

The first weekend was a success with the vehicle deployed to three incidents in Cornwall.  One of the victims didn’t want to speak to the initial officers who were sent to the scene. The safeguarding team were dispatched and spent nearly two hours with the victim at the scene taking a statement and completing a full risk assessment. The team also attended a high risk incident in which the IDVA deployed had previously worked with the victim and had built a rapport which helped bring a charge against the suspect who was remanded in custody.

Mel Francis, Service Manager at First Light said: “We are excited to be working in collaboration with the police on this innovative pilot.  The Safeguarding Car gives us the opportunity to speak, listen and offer support and advice to victims at the earliest opportunity.  We will be able to provide a more holistic approach, enabling victims to access support for their needs as well as safety.  Hopefully enabling them to gain confidence to access support in the future and be empowered to make change.’’

The Safeguarding Car will work between 4pm and 2am Friday’s and Saturdays.

This initial trial in Cornwall will run for three months and will be evaluated by an independent consultative review.

Dr Jackie Lightens 150 mile trek to raise awareness of domestic abuse

PRESS RELEASE

Jackie’s South West Coastal Trek against Domestic Abuse

Dr Jackie Lighten is setting off on Thursday 16th July for a 150+ mile hike from Westward Ho! to St. Ives to raise awareness of domestic abuse and crucial funds for First Light.

‘’I am from Horndon on the Hill in Essex and moved to Devon in 2018 as a BBSRC Research Fellow at the University of Exeter.

‘’I have grown up with a love for nature, adventure, music, and surfing, and love exploring new places, all with the support of amazing parents. However, I have been a victim of psychological domestic abuse, in my adult life, which sadly I think is an unspoken problem from the perspective of men being a victim. I have also witnessed the extreme mental and physical abuse that female friends have endured, and the complete feeling of imprisonment and helplessness.”

”From experiencing the warmth of the South West communities, yet seeing how some areas are quite under resourced, I chose to support First Light to help victims of domestic abuse, with instances increasing significantly as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. I hope that my 150 mile hike helps to raise the profile of First Light and the crucial work they do. The physical strain that I will undergo is just minute in comparison to the mental and physical abuse that victims of domestic abuse undergo each day.”

Mel Francis, First Light Service Manager ”What an amazing challenge Jackie is undertaking! We are very grateful that he has chosen to support First Light. It is estimated that 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year and 786,000 of them men. By completing this fantastic challenge Jackie is not only raising money for First Light which is immensely appreciated to help support men, women and children at an extremely vulnerable time but also highlighting and raising the profile that domestic abuse can cross all social boundaries and anyone can be affected.”

Jackie estimates it will take him about two weeks to complete the trek ending in St Ives.

Dr Jackie Lighten Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jackies-sw-trek

Guide for professionals

Social Care Institute for Excellence have developed a quick guide with Respect and SafeLives to provide practical ideas for social care professionals about the impact on domestic violence and abuse as lockdown eases.

Click here to read more.

Newsletter – June 2020

Message to supporters from
Lyn Gooding First Light CEO

So here we all are in week 13 of lock-down and how different the world looks. Everyone seems to have learnt a new global language, never before did we contemplate holding zoom meetings, be that for business or pleasure, but its platforms like these that has enabled us all to feel connected.

For all of us here at First Light we continue to operate in the new normal, adapting and delivering all our services remotely. While developing our new working practices we also recognise there are a large number of people who are struggling to reach out and seek support. For some contacting us via our helpline  may not be possible through fear of being overheard. In an effort to ensure we can reach as many people as possible, we recently launched ‘livechat’ on our First Light and Safer Futures websites. The service offers support, help and advice, 9:00 – 17:00 Monday to Friday and has been funded by Cornwall Community Foundations Emergency Fund.

In addition to our usual services two of our team, Mel and Carrina, have been delivering domestic abuse and sexual violence awareness training to Exeter University staff. The original plan was to deliver the training face to face but lockdown meant we had to rethink this approach. Embracing the new technology, training was delivered online. The feedback we received was excellent and clearly demonstrated the skills and knowledge our team have in this field, so if there are other organisations who might be interested in receiving similar training please do not hesitate to make contact with us via our Communications Officer Carrina Tytheridge or [email protected].

Feedback received included:

‘The trainers were brilliant and the sessions were very informative and well delivered.’ 

‘Brilliant in depth training that got you thinking. Allowed the exploration of sensitive and harrowing topics within a safe environment.’ 

‘Absolutely fantastic course. So interesting and First Light having first hand experience to share with us, made it more engaging too. I think they did an amazing job despite the complexities of delivering such a challenging topic virtually.’ 

Finally, as lock-down measures are slowly lifting, we are working hard developing our recovery plans. We acknowledge that the past 12 weeks has proved we can operate differently still helping to support and protect people from abuse, be that through education, crisis support and advocacy or therapeutic interventions and it is important we learn the lessons and adapt our services according to clients needs.

We also want to say a big THANK YOU to those of you out there that have been fundraising on our behalf, while at the same time raising the profile of the trauma inflicted through domestic abuse and sexual violence, its by working together we can make a real difference, so  again, THANK YOU you truly are amazing and we are very grateful that you chose to support our charity and cause.

Take care and stay safe.

We have recently launched a new website for our Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Recovery Service – Safer Futures. Here you can access online resources and make referrals to our services. Click here to have a look!