Helping People Meet Their Potential

ReachOut is a unique service offered at Aviva, which supports people who use, or are at risk of using violence, to build safer, more respectful, fulfilling relationships. Steve Foster, a Senior Practitioner within the ReachOut Team, has been undertaking this mahi for just over a year. 

With over 18 years’ experience in the sector, Steve describes the ethos of Aviva as “wonderful; not just in the way we work with clients and other agencies, but in how we work with each other. Of course we are accountable and work within guidelines and policies; but there’s no rigidity – we have freedom to do whatever is best for our clients.”

When Steve first started at Aviva, his work was mostly with male clients, however now he increasingly works with women and young people to help them overcome issues with anger, use of violence and power and control.

“It’s important to be non-judgmental,” says Steve. “If you go in with any pre-conceived notions, the relationship just won’t work.” Instead, Steve sees it as his role to make people feel relaxed straight away, and allow them freedom to make their own choices. “I really believe that this world tells people what they have to do, and what their limitations are, far too much. That’s not what I’m about; I listen and ask people what they need.”

The biggest challenge Steve sees people facing is one of self-belief. “I meet people who don’t believe they have a chance. But I’m here to tell them that they do. We give people the tools they need to manage their struggles with power and control, and anger. And we give that ongoing support that’s so important.

“I’ve had clients say they don’t know what they’d have done if Aviva hadn’t come along. They’ve been at a point where they didn’t know what would happen next in their lives. But with support they’ve been able to move forward. Some people have gone back into education, some have more time and more tools to build their relationship with their kids.”

In addition to his work with ReachOut, Steve recently joined Aviva’s Microfinance Loans Committee, which provides him with insight into other opportunities for our clients. Microfinance offers safe, no or low interest loans for clients in need of essential items for their home, work or education. “Having Microfinance means we can further empower our clients, by offering the chance to help themselves,” says Steve. 

Steve’s biggest motivation is reducing family harm and helping people to find self-belief. “I want them to know that they can achieve change and have harmony in their relationships. Everyone can change, if they want to.” 

When asked what he would say to someone who is nervous to reach out, Steve’s answer is simple: “come and have a cup of tea with me. And I’ll explain what we do. There is no cost to accessing ReachOut, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You have choices, and you have a chance.” 

To find out more about ReachOut, including how to access help or refer someone else, visit this page.