I am a Lead Practitioner with Forward Leeds, based at Kirkgate, and have been attending the monthly MARAC (multi agency risk assessment conference) meeting for South Leeds and Holbeck for about two years.
I knew relatively little about the help available for those affected by domestic violence and abuse in Leeds until then, but have been amazed at the extensive wrap around support on offer. As a team we have referred many people to MARAC, where they’ve been able to get help with things like housing and ongoing support from a domestic violence worker, to make positive changes to their circumstances.
One case which stuck with me was a young woman who was subject to physical and psychological violence, but did not feel she could speak out. When the perpetrator was recalled to prison (for an unrelated offence) MARAC was able to step in and offer her all of the means necessary to change her circumstances. She has been re-housed, obtained a restraining order, and offered ongoing support.
Because MARAC is a multi-disciplinary meeting focused primarily on the needs of the victim, it is possible to share crucial information from a range of services, which will always be kept confidential from the perpetrator. Without such multi-disciplinary systems and processes as MARAC, we could find ourselves working in isolation without the resources to make the changes happen. Information sharing and communication is vital.
I think the ‘Get comfortable talking about it’ campaign is great. It is a subtle way of encouraging everyone to take notice of domestic violence and abuse, and open up discussions – from the street level up to the professional level. The campaign has been publicised within our team and the posters displayed throughout the service, to raise awareness amongst staff and service users. We’ll be spreading the word and opening up conversations with the hundreds of people we come across daily.