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Primary Care Service: Ending Abuse in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

There’s a powerful transformation happening behind the scenes in GP surgeries. First Light, an organisation committed to supporting those affected by domestic and sexual violence, is leading the way with a groundbreaking initiative that’s redefining the role of medical professionals in aiding victims. We’re excited to share the remarkable story of this pilot scheme that’s extended until 2025, ensuring that help is never out of reach for those who need it most.

The journey began two and a half years ago when we identified a crucial gap in the services provided by GP surgeries. We realised that this was a unique opportunity to connect with individuals who were suffering in silence, trapped by domestic and sexual violence. Julia Morris, a dedicated Domestic Abuse Support Advisor, explains, “A lot of the GPs admitted they don’t have the time to talk to people, and once they’ve asked that question, they haven’t got the confidence to know where to signpost people who are experiencing abuse.”

We decided to take action, and the results have been nothing short of transformative. By providing specialised training to health professionals, we equip them with the confidence to ask those difficult questions, making them aware of the extensive support available and streamlining the referral process. Julia adds, “So, they refer people into our service, we risk assess, meet with them, and move them onto the appropriate support.”

In 2022-2023, over 14,000 individuals reached out to us for support, this was a 15% increase from the previous year. Over 11,000 individuals were supported for domestic abuse and/or sexual violence in Devon and Cornwall alone. Anne Toms, Team Manager for Domestic Abuse at the Safer Futures service, includes, “I think the referrals speak for themselves because they’re constantly increasing, but the most important bit is that people are really engaging with us and being signposted off to recovery.”

As our program continues to grow, we are branching out into safeguarding efforts. We are now actively participating in critical meetings, such as the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference, as we drive our mission forward. This approach ensures that individuals not only receive immediate help but also have a support system in place for their long-term recovery.

Our training courses are designed to foster early intervention, enhance understanding, develop response skills, and provide support and guidance. Julia shares, “With a lot of people, we’ve made such a difference. They’re not accessing the GP quite so much because we’re actually tackling the cause, and the relationships with the GP clinics have been fantastic.”

In a world where countless individuals suffer in silence, our initiative is changing the narrative. Our profound impact is echoed by feedback from GPs, surgeries, and health professionals, who emphasise that this service provides a lifeline to those who may have never accessed support before. Julia sums it up beautifully, saying, “By this service, we’re giving those people a voice.”

As this pilot scheme extends until 2025, the future shines a little brighter for those who have suffered in silence for far too long. It’s a beacon of hope in Cornwall, one that reminds us that transformation is possible when we unite with a shared purpose – to protect, support, and empower those in need.


If you would like to learn more about our Primary Care training, contact us on:

0300 777 4 777

[email protected]