This year the Spurgeons’ Norwich Connect was shortlisted for the 2020 Children and Young People Now Awards in the Early Intervention category for its work providing assistance for individuals, couples and families affected by domestic abuse. Ahead of the virtual awards ceremony in 2021 we speak to John Lee who has lead the project since its launch in 2018 to hear more about the service.
How does Norwich Connect make a difference?
Connect was developed by SafeLives to meet the identified gaps in domestic abuse services across the UK, through direct research with survivors and specialist services. This has allowed survivors to have their voices heard and helped develop a service which has service users’ experiences at the heart of everything we do.
Our Idvas (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) team supports victims around their safety. Their specialist knowledge and experience allows them to work with victims to create safety plans which build on their strengths and provide practical support to help them continue to stay safe.
We also want to help people to move forward with confidence, to live the life they want and to thrive. Our recovery groups help people to do that by offering courses such as the Freedom Programme or Pattern Changing, which allow victims and survivors to understand what domestic abuse is and how it impacts them and their family, helping to further develop confidence and resilience.
Other groups have more of a social focus, like Coffee, Craft, Connect which offers a relaxed, informal environment for people to be part of a community of individuals with similar experiences.
We train and support peer mentors to support fellow survivors.
One of the ground-breaking areas of Connect is Engage, our behavioural change programme for perpetrators. We believe that working directly with perpetrators will help stop the cycle of abuse by challenging and supporting them to change their abusive behaviour. We will work with perpetrators where the victim wishes to remain in the relationship and where it is safe to do so.
Norwich Connect supports children to help keep them safe to support them to develop their own confidence and resilience, working with the child to focus on such areas as safety planning, managing behaviour, feelings and personal development. We also support families around Adolescent to Parent Violence.
As part of our recovery work, we support the victim and children to rebuild their relationship after abuse, through programmes such as Grow Together and Side by Side.
Norwich Connect also trains 1,500 other professionals a year on issues of domestic abuse.
The pilot is being independently academically evaluated and the intention of Safelives and our funders is that its learning will help transform national policies and practice.
The seven programmes brought together by Norwich Connect are:
- Complex Needs and Community Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (Idvas)
- Children and young people 1:1 support
- Grow Together / Side by Side
- Adolescent to Parent Violence
- Engage – behavioural change work with perpetrators
- Recovery – online counselling, Freedom, Pattern Changing, Weekly drop-in, Peer mentors
- Training of professionals
So John, what part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
The team. They have worked incredibly hard in the first years of the pilot to learn and set up seven new interventions. We’ve asked the team to really dig deep in terms of their own learning and personal reflection while challenging their perceptions and ways of working as they came under considerable pressure to set up and deliver a very varied series of interventions.
All team members have embraced this and developed a strong culture of reflection, mutual support and multi-agency working while challenging other professionals to support clients to achieve the best possible outcomes.
And the most difficult bit?
Since we launched in November 2018 we have supported over 500 people which is twice the amount of people we anticipated. This is testament to the trust professionals and clients have placed in the service and also to the need for more domestic abuse support services.
To learn more about the Norwich Connect Service or to make a referral, click here.