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Never too Late – domestic abuse for older people and Women in Housing Awards

Some of us are in Manchester  this evening.  For an awards do.

We think it’s the first time this has happened to CHADD staff.

Not that we don’t think our work is good – we just haven’t been in the habit of hollering about it. We’re really looking forward to a whole night celebrating the achievements of Women in Housing.

We’ve been shortlisted for our Never Too Late programme in the category Most Effective Project in improving the Lives of Women or Communities.

We think this is important work. We’re proud of everyone involved – especially the people who come forward for help. 

We’ve done this with the close support of the West Mids Police and Crime Commissioner, Dudley Council and the Department of Communities and Local Government.

So let’s tell you about it:

‘Never Too Late’ is a specialist project for older women who have been victims of domestic abuse.  The project supports and provides specialist refuge accommodation for older people (55+), and outreach support along with training and awareness campaigns.

The project provides a safety net and spring board for older women victims of domestic abuse as well raising awareness of the hidden issues surrounding abuse by promoting awareness to older people, professionals and the local community.

It is the only service in the country to provide specialist refuge accommodation using housing stock within sheltered housing schemes.

Why and what difference does it make?

CHADD have delivered domestic abuse services for over 35 years. We already provide 31 refuge placements as part of the Women’s Refuge locally, along with outreach services.  We also provide 95 units of sheltered housing.

We were seeing increasing numbers of older victims referred to our service and regularly housed victims in their 60s and 70s in our women’s refuge – in fact 1 victim was 83 years old.

Generally, Women’s Refuges and support services are targeted at younger women with children.  Feedback from older victims provided insights in to how they felt very isolated in women’s refuges with very different generational experiences of abuse, the impacts and lifestyle expectations.  They wanted to be safe and secure but with people they could relate to.

Building on the feedback of those victims, we designed a new service specifically for older women victims.  

  • We decided to pilot using voids within our sheltered housing for older victims as a ‘satellite refuge placement’ with outreach support.  The sheltered schemes were a safe secure setting within a community of older people.  
  • We knew that we needed outreach support for women victims living in the community as for a range of reasons some victims are unable to leave.
  • This was a hidden issue amongst professionals and stakeholders so we developed a training awareness workshop to highlight the unique issues and challenges faced by older victims to equip people to respond.

Emotional and physical health

  • 25 older women have been supported through refuge placements and outreach service.
  • 5 of those have been resettled elsewhere in to safe accommodation in the community.
  • 2 of those victims have progressed and have commenced volunteering, and are providing ‘peer support’ to other older victims.
  • 470 professionals and stakeholders have attended the awareness training workshops.
  • Professionals in adult social care and primary care, and community health settings are now trained to identify domestic abuse in older victims.

The impact of abuse on emotional and physical health can be significant and our work to improve women’s self-worth, confidence, contribution to community, self-care and access to health services have seen a 90% increase in emotional wellbeing levels and a 40% increase in better physical health.

‘We never thought Mum would ever leave him, it’s been happening ever since we can remember. Now she’s made the break & she’s happy, now we all sleep better too’. Joanne

The outreach service has also been effective in helping address anti-social behaviour incidents in neighbourhoods as domestic abuse incidents have decreased leading to decreasing Police call-outs, neighbour complaints and damage to property.  There has been a 19% reduction in incidents in cases where this was relevant.

 

So – we’ll let you know how we get on. Wish us luck.

 

 

 

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