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Innovative scheme to tackle domestic abuse supported by PCC

An initiative which aims to improve help and support for families and individuals experiencing domestic abuse has received vital backing from the office of Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner.

The three year Norwich Connect pilot programme, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the city, was launched today in partnership with the Norfolk County Community Safety Partnership (NCCSP); UK domestic abuse charity SafeLives and Spurgeons Children’s Charity.

The new partnership will be looking to enhance the support provided to people experiencing abuse by working closely with victims and survivors. Over the next three years, it will trial innovative approaches, ensuring every family member can get the right support at the right time, to make them safe, sooner.  The main focus will be on:
  • Helping people to recognise the signs of abuse before it escalates, through early intervention
  • Support for the complex needs many people have – often because of, or exacerbated by domestic abuse, such as substance misuse and mental ill health
  • Support for people who are still in their relationship or living with the perpetrator of abuse
  • Support for children and young people through specialist, age appropriate services
  • Support for survivors to recover from the harm, heal and build resilience
Partners from the NCCSP, which has provided significant funding for the project, include Norfolk Constabulary, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN), Norfolk Children’s Services, Norfolk Adult Social Services, Norfolk Public Health and Norwich City Council.

The OPCCN has contributed a total of £138,833 to help fund the service.

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Victims’ Champion Lorne Green, said: “The voice of survivors must be at the heart of everything we do to stop domestic abuse in our county.

“I wholeheartedly support the new service and am confident that our learning over the next three years will significantly strengthen our response to domestic abuse in Norfolk.”

At the heart of the pilot is a commitment to work in partnership with existing services to provide a joined-up response for individuals and the whole family.

The interventions will form a package of support that takes into account the needs of each person experiencing abuse and offers a tailored response. The pilot will also include training and guidance for professionals, enhancing skills and encouraging agencies to work together to create a culture of engagement with the people and communities they serve.

Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health and spokesperson for the NCCSP, said:  “Domestic abuse blights the daily lives of many people. The causes are complex and its consequences far reaching. Effective responses to domestic abuse are grounded in sound partnership working, and so I am delighted that all the Norfolk partners are working alongside SafeLives, and Spurgeons Children’s Charity to pilot new approaches.  Working with national experts will ensure that our improvement programme is informed by both innovation and best practice nationally.”

Ross Hendry, Chief Executive of Spurgeons Children’s Charity, said: “Spurgeons, and our team of domestic violence specialists, are delighted to be able to provide a whole family approach to tackling domestic violence in the city of Norwich.

“We know it takes an average of 35 incidents of domestic violence before the victim picks up the courage to report it to police. But victims will tell someone they trust, such as a family support worker, much sooner. The Norwich Connect programme, which is being delivered in partnership with the Norfolk County Community Safety Partnership and SafeLives, will aim to encourage the earliest possible intervention and help increase the chance of a positive outcome.”

Suzanne Jacob, SafeLives Chief Executive, said: “For the past two years we’ve worked incredibly hard with expert partners and survivors of domestic abuse to develop these interventions, and we’re delighted to be working with Spurgeons Children’s Charity and partners from the NCCSP. Domestic abuse is a public health epidemic – with over two million people in the UK experiencing it annually. The time to act is now – we must identify every victim, survivor and family at risk and offer them tailored support to meet their needs. The learnings from this pilot will help us develop ways of improving the national response to domestic abuse so that every person – no matter who they are, or where they live – can receive the right response to make them safe and well.”

It is hoped that the pilot will provide a much-needed evidence base of what works and will be used to inform the response nationally. It will also build on SafeLives’ Beacon approach: creating lasting systematic change by seeing the whole picture for the whole family, challenging perpetrator behaviour and meeting the gaps in the response to domestic abuse that exist nationally.

Today's launch took place at Blackfriars Hall in Norwich. The project also received funding from the Big Lottery Fund Women and Girls Initiative, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Peter Cundill Foundation and The Aurum Charitable Trust.