Fylde coast domestic abuse campaign wins national award

Independent domestic violence advisor, Claire Bennett with Insp Jon Smith

AN INITIATIVE to help victims of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic has won a national award.

Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s Safeguarding Team won the Patient Safety Improvement category at this year’s Nursing Times Awards 2020, the leading nursing awards in the country.

The team, working collaboratively with Lancashire Constabulary and Fylde Coast Women’s Aid, devised a swift and direct response to Domestic Abuse and Violence (DAV) in the COVID-19 pandemic which judges said was “creative, innovative and replicable.’’

Hazel Gregory, Safeguarding Lead for the Trust, said: “When the first lockdown was announced it immediately became apparent, that victims and families exposed to DAV were in a very vulnerable and volatile position.

“Furthermore, the Government’s advice to ‘stay at home’ and ‘socially distance’ meant our usual stream of work dramatically declined, people were no longer attending hospitals, GPs or health settings.

“The team collaborated with Police colleagues, local supermarkets and pharmacies to implement Operation Provide with the purpose to go to the victim rather than wait for victim to come to our services. Within a few weeks this then developed and evolved to fit the victims needs to the Health Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) s to work alongside the police response to calls from victims, with face to face work and support immediately available to victims.’’

The Nursing Times judges said ‘‘it was a highly innovative project demonstrated the ability to adapt a service in real time to meet an urgent safety priority borne out of a crisis, which was COVID-19. This was an excellent example of partnership working across agencies. It was creative, inspirational and of unquestionable value’’.

Insp Jon Smith, from Lancashire Constabulary, said: “It is great that this operation has been recognised nationally for its work in tackling domestic abuse.

“Working together with partners, we acknowledged early on that the advice to isolate and stay at home would prove particularly challenging for those in abusive or violent relationships. Through the introduction of this operation we have been able support victims throughout this challenging period and provide them with enhanced support.

“We remain committed to tackling domestic abuse and bringing offenders before the court.”

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner who provided funding for the project, said: “Domestic abuse is unacceptable. We know that over 90% of incidents are witnessed by children so whatever we can do to encourage and support people to take that first step and get help has to be a good thing.

“The pandemic continues to put extra pressures on families and relationships and whilst that should never be an excuse for any kind of violence, the reality is that some people will be affected by abuse.”

“Supporting vulnerable people and victims is a key part of my police and crime plan and I would urge anyone affected by domestic violence to contact Lancashire Victim Services for specialist support and advice, which is completely confidential.”

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