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Project to support locals affected by domestic abuse launched

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:33 29 March 2018

Cllr John Knight said positive results have already been seen. Picture: Gravesham Borough Council

Cllr John Knight said positive results have already been seen. Picture: Gravesham Borough Council

Archant

A three-year project to help support local people affected by domestic abuse and violence has been launched.

Altogether Safer, a council-led initiative, aims to draw under-represented individuals into services, change attitudes and break the cycle of violence against women and girls through preventative work with boys and young men.

After receiving financial backing of £229,000 from the Home Office last year, the council began the initiative and has ended its first year with a number of successes.

The first element of the Altogether Safer project is the out of hour’s service to give support to victims at any time.

Five Independent Domestic Violence Advisors, who work from the North Kent Police Station alongside officers at key times, have been appointed and are fully vetted and trained.

Marie*, who was a victim of domestic violence, said: “Working with the out of hour’s service started my journey in recognising the impact that my relationship had had on my life.

“I would not have been able to access the services needed, I was really down and the first contact with the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor had given me the hope that I would be able to make changes.

“I can’t thank the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor enough.

“I felt that I had not been judged and that I have been given hope for a better future.”

Since the project began, 89 individuals have been helped as part of this initiative, while 113 children within these households have also experienced domestic violence and abuse, commonly known as the ‘hidden victims’ have also been assisted.

The second strand of the project is called Choose Respect, and is aimed at boys aged between 11 and 18 who are referred to the scheme by an agency, families, schools or even themselves.

Since September the Choose Respect programme has helped 55 boys.

The schools in Gravesham engaged in the programme include Northfleet Technology College, St. George’s School, Meopham Secondary School, St. John’s Catholic Comprehensive, Gad’s Hill School and Thamesview School.

Other schools in Dartford are also taking part in the programme.

The boys who are referred take part in a 12-week programme to help them learn new healthy communication and relationship skills whilst addressing negative belief systems.

The programme also tackles topics such as online grooming, social media, stalking, sexting, consent and what inappropriate behaviour is.

Cabinet member for community safety, cllr John Knight, said: “We’re working with our partners to deliver this project and make a real difference in our communities.

“Even after year one we have had some really positive results.

“Violence against women and girls is totally unacceptable and we all have a responsibility to tackle it.”

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