Supporting Young People to Create Safer Relationships

28th of November, 2017

In 2012 Aviva began receiving Police reports of violence, using them as way of contacting people using violence; one of the most troubling things they showed was how many young people were named as the violent person.

Youth Team

We know that to interrupt the intergenerational cycle of family violence, we need to start working with young people early. Yet young people - particularly boys and young men - have not been well supported by the family violence sector.

Realising that we needed to be more proactive in engaging with young people, in 2014 Aviva began developing an in-school Healthy Relationships programme which, since 2015 (with support from the Dublin St Charitable Trust and Youthtown), we have offered in local schools. The programme was very popular and effective in educating young people about healthy and unhealthy behvaiours in their relationships with friends, families, and intimate partners. It also helped us to see that much more was needed.

Over the last 12 months, thanks to the support of the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust, Aviva has made significant progress in developing a one-to-one Youth Service to support young people that have been exposed to family or sexual violence, or are struggling with their own anger.

Our team of three deliver a personalised, family-centred service for young people up to 25 years old. Referrals come from the Police-report focussed Integrated Safety Response, self-referral via the Aviva 0800 support line and walk-ins to The Loft, education providers, health services, social services, counselling services and referrals from existing clients. Whichever way they enter service, the first thing a Youth Worker will do is complete a risk and needs assessment and develop an appropriate safety plan.

The team are very flexible in how and where they deliver the work, often doing home visits and meeting clients in the community or at school. They also utilise free local resources such as walking tracks, parks and shopping centres. Depending on what the young person might be interested in, their Worker is able to run sessions whilst completing an activity. This adaptability fosters engagement and that is essential in the success of the work.

As Jo also noted in our earlier article about her work with children, often what young people are lacking is positive role models; this is where the Youth Team adopts more of mentoring approach. Some of our younger clients frequently have problems at school, and in these cases the Youth Worker will provide advice and guidance on how to manage their behaviour in a way that compliments their ability to learn. They will also advocate for the young person when necessary, as young people often struggle communicating their needs to other professionals or family members. Once a positive relationship has been established, their Worker can advocate on their behalf, perhaps by attending meetings with them at health services, education providers, social services meetings, family disputes and many other situations.

Some of our young clients are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). If appropriate, their Worker will help them to develop CVs, undertake employment searches or find volunteering opportunities, and provide careers advice. This is an essential part of helping them to build a positive future by providing safe and productive experiences that help them learn, whilst building self-esteem. 

The team’s creative and adaptive approach with young people has won them praise from clients and their families, and we’re sure will sow the seeds of positive change for many young people. Here’s what one mum recently said about the impact the support from the Youth Team had made on her son: “The service is amazing. It's the first time my son has engaged with someone and wants to attend each week. He frequently speaks about how valuable he finds it and how good it is having a male to talk to about things. I love that sessions are not just held in an office, but also out in nature. He desperately needs positive male role models in his life and this service has enabled him to get that.”

If you know a young person that could benefit from the support of our Youth Team, contact us on enquiries@avivafamilies.org.nz

 

Giving the Gift of Time

28th of November, 2017

Time – it’s the one thing you can’t ever get back, and despite all of our ‘time-saving devices’, there never seems to be enough of it.

That makes it even more special when people give it so freely. From July 2016 until June 2017, Aviva was gifted 9,515 hours of voluntary time (not including approximately 200 more hours of street appeal and events support). If that seems like a lot to you, you’re right!! It’s equivalent to 237 40-hour weeks, or four and a half years of full-time work, valued at well over a quarter of a million dollars.

The majority of these hours come from our after-hours SASSC volunteers, as well as ACC return-to-work and student placements. Our SASSC volunteers provide 128 hours of volunteer time each week, making up over half of our gifted time total. This wonderful team of people are on hand in the evening and during weekends to support women and men in crisis following sexual assault. They may receive a call, attend the Cambridge Clinic with a client for a medical exam, or be called to the Police station to support someone make a statement. What they do is truly amazing. Erin, a SASSC volunteers, sums up why she gives so much time to SASSC – “Seeing that fear for themselves in another human being is difficult. But the really positive part of the role is being able to soothe someone – people are so grateful that you are giving them just what they need in that moment.” 

Aviva usually hosts at least one, and sometimes two, ACC clients preparing to return to the workforce after an injury. Typically they will work either on reception in The Loft, or assist us with databasing client notes. Starting at 12-15 hours per week, they gradually build up to a maximum of 30 hours per week. We’re very glad to say that three people who came to us on placement have since gone on to become Aviva employees.

Out Board members are volunteers, and staff also often gift time. We’re also lucky to have regular volunteers who assist with administration tasks, and occasional volunteer drivers for our children attending group education, who need to be collected from and returned to school. We simply could not afford to pay for that much assistance, and we are so very grateful to every person who gifts their time to support people overcome family and sexual violence.

If you would like to find out about being a volunteer in the Aviva family please download an application form from www.avivafamilies.org.nz, of call 0800 AVIVA NOW.

 

Healthy Communities, Healthy Children

28th of November, 2017

Thanks to the support of Ace Aotearoa, in July this year Aviva and partner Child Matters began developing a community-based and focussed Child Protection and Wellbeing Training programme.

Magic J

The intention is to adapt Aviva’s Purposeful Peer Support training programme through which those with past lived experience of family violence learn how to support others in their community safely and effectively, and adapt it to offer child protection training to community and whanau ‘champions’.

The training is designed to grow community leadership and enhance the capacity of those closest to our vulnerable children – their whÄ�nau, caregivers, neighbours and educators – to understand the importance of protecting the young people in their lives, and learn how to do so more effectively.

The pilot is linking with the ‘1000+’ initiative being run in the eastern suburbs. This focusses on supporting young children in the east during the 1000 days of their life before they turn five. Aviva and Hamilton-based Child Matters will bring child protection training expertise, family violence expertise, and a peer perspective to the 1000+ initiative. Workshops with Child Matters and the Development Team of the 1000+ project have helped to agree exactly how this pilot project can work alongside their existing initiatives, and establish what particular learnings the 1000+ development team hope this project could offer their work.

The training will evolve based on feedback as it is specifically intended to be community-led, developed and focussed. The 1000+ initiative already has well-established contacts amongst the local community, and community design workshops are being held in November and December. Following that, the training will be delivered to the community and, after further adaptation based on feedback, the completed community-centred, child protection education will be delivered to other members of the community.

 

Overcoming a Damaged Childhood

28th of November, 2017

Jo Corr joined Aviva just over one year ago in a new role of part-time Child Support Worker. She specialises in working with young children who have experienced family violence, and who have been named on a Protection Order. Working with children who have experienced trauma, and supporting them past their experiences, is a passion for Jo. As a Forensic Psychologist in the UK she worked men in prison serving life sentences. It was there that she saw how many of those men had been significantly affected into adulthood by troubled childhoods. “That motivated me to pursue work with families and children in order to contribute to the early interventions that can make a huge difference to children’s future outcomes” says Jo.

Jo

Understanding how children think and process things is critical in Jo’s work as children who’ve experienced family violence are often scared to talk about it. “Any discussion around family violence is always taken at the child’s pace. One of the most important things is to reassure the children that they are not responsible for the problems that their families have experienced.” says Jo. “From there, I tailor sessions to suit each child’s needs and personality. The sessions are educational to a certain extent but they are framed in a supportive way. I always let the children know that there are no wrong answers in our sessions, and no tests! There is a lot of play and games as that helps makes them feel comfortable.”

The most important thing in Jo’s work is the children’s safety – “checking that they are safe in their homes and with their families. Beyond this I aim to increase their understanding of what they have experienced, raise their awareness of their own emotional responses and help them to recognise their own strengths and talents. It’s so great when I get a breakthrough with a child, when they demonstrate what they have learnt or when a parent messages me and lets me know I have made a difference.”

It can be challenging work, Jo admits, but the challenges are not from the children. “The scale of family violence in New Zealand can feel quite overwhelming” she says. “Also time constraints can be challenging. I am allocated a certain number of sessions with them (by the Ministry of Justice funding model) and sometimes it’s just not enough.

The limited resources of the social sector are a frustration too. “Unfortunately there are limited options within the community for onward referrals for the children once I have come to the end of my time with them. Most services for children in Christchurch seem to be overstretched.  Many of the children I work with have supportive families or someone in their wider whanau who is a great role model and will make a really positive difference to their future well-being, but many - especially the boys - don’t. They demonstrate such vulnerability, kindness and empathy - these qualities should be celebrated as strengths by male role models in their lives.”

Despite the challenges and frustrations, Jo loves the work she does and names the best part of her job without hesitation - the children. “Every week I meet children who amaze me; it’s a privilege to spend time getting to know them. They all have great qualities and huge potential, and they make me feel very hopeful for the future.”

 

Self-worth and Saved Relationships

28th of November, 2017

Like many clients, Sacha* came to Aviva for one service but, once engaged, realised that there was more that she needed.

Mother and Son

Sacha initially engaged with our Specialist Peer Support service, through which those with past lived experience of family violence support others on their own journey of change, to help her relationship with her son. Whilst her son Cameron* was supported by Aviva’s Youth Service, Sacha also chose to undertake our 10-week family violence education programme. The support they received has changed their lives, and their relationship, for the better.

“My relationship with my husband was never really a good one; it wasn’t a very happy marriage. He used a lot of stuff that happened to me in my childhood, like mental abuse from my brother, against me. There’d been real problems in our family, but none of them ever got solved, none of them were ever talked about. You just basically had to live with what you got.

“My husband and I separated when our son (Cameron, now 16) was four. Since then I’ve been a single mum. Even when he was little Cameron was really full on, but in recent years things started to get out of hand. He started to get violent towards me and he’d chuck a mental at any little thing. He began to see his Dad again, which wasn’t helping because he isn’t a very good role model. He’d also say things behind my back that weren’t exactly true, but Cameron believed it; that made it really hard on us. It’s a lot to handle when you are on your own.

“The Police had been involved quite a bit over the last two years and I was getting concerned for my safety. Cameron was hard to handle - he towers over me and he lets things get on top of him. I was worried that he might just explode one day and hit me.

“One time when the Police were called they gave me Aviva’s details, to get help with Cameron, and they said Peer Support was available too for me. Cameron was a little bit resistant to begin with, but he started getting on really well with his Worker from the Youth Team, and found he could talk to him. I found Peer Support really good too - just being able to go and run things past them and ask ‘Am I approaching this right?’ They helped me to deal with problems in a more positive way.

“I also took part in the 10-week education programme. It brought back a lot of stuff from my childhood and marriage that I really didn’t want to think about, but knew I had to get sorted out. It was worth it to work through those things because Cameron and I aren’t fighting like we use to and are dealing with things now as they come up. I’ve learnt how to handle things more with him, and group gave me so much more understanding. I had forgotten where I was in it all, now I’m better at thinking about my own safety and wellbeing. I have the tools to use when/if I’m faced with challenging situations, and I have a way better knowledge of what healthy relationships look like - that’s been a big one for me.

“If someone else is struggling like I was, I’d tell them, don’t be scared to ask for help. The problems we've had are starting to disappear because now we both feel we can walk away long enough to come back and talk and actually listen to one another. On a scale of one to ten with one being the lowest, my self-confidence and self-worth would have started on a three and I’m now on an eight. I really feel like things are moving forward in my journey.”

If you or a young person in your life want to begin a journey like Sacha’s and Cameron’s, and think Aviva might be able to help, call 0800 AVIVA NOW. 

 

Give a Truly Special Christmas Gift

23rd of November, 2017

This year you can spread the happiness of helping by buying an Aviva gift certificate to give to a loved one, showing how you’ve made someone else’s life safer on their behalf.

Purchasing a gift certificate just takes three easy steps

1. Choose the gift certificate you would like to give this Christmas. See options below.

2. Email taasev@avivafamilies.org.nz with details of the gift certificate you wish to gift and the name of the recipient.

3. Make a payment into the Aviva bank account using your name as a reference.

Bank: Kiwibank
Account Name: Aviva
Account Number: 38-9017-0823864-00
Please include your name as the reference. 

4. Once payment is received we will email you a pdf of the personalised gift certificate which you can print off to give to the recipient or pass on via email.

If you are interested in purchasing a gift certificate but are unable to email us or pay electronically, please call 0800 AVIVA NOW (0800 28482 669) to discuss other options.


 

For the families we work with Christmas is usually not a great time of year – many actually dread it. We know that like us, you want to make a difference and make the homes of children safer this holiday season. When you are thinking of gifts to give, perhaps you could also help some of the people who need Aviva.

Options include:

  • $25 to ‘Ease a Child’s Fear’ – this buys Worry Dolls and other resources to support children attending an education group. Learn more here.
  • $40 to ‘Keep a Family Safe and Connected’ - buys an emergency mobile phone for a client at high risk of repeat family violence. Learn more here.
  • $60 to ‘Answer the Call for Help’ - this ensures our 24-hour support line is answered during the night. Learn more here.
  • $100 to ‘Make the Children Smile’ - $100 can provide resources and food (children’s favourite part of group!) for our Tamariki education programmes. Learn more here.
  • $150 to ‘Keep a Family at Home this Christmas’ – that’s all it takes to help a family stay safely in their own home this Christmas by providing a home security check and a personal alarm. Learn more here.

How can your gift help?

$25 to ‘Ease a Child’s Fear’ $25 buys Worry Dolls and other resources to support children attending an education group

Your generosity can bring happiness and reduce the fear and confusion that children overcoming their experiences of family violence often feel. I can’t think of a more special Christmas gift than that!

How does this gift help?

Worry Dolls and Boxes are given to children who attend the 10-week Tamariki programme, which helps children that have been exposed to family violence to discover their strengths, value and self-reliance, and to realise that a better, safer life is possible. The Worry Boxes have tiny dolls inside them. Children are encouraged to deal with anxiety by telling the dolls their worries or fears (they are reminded that big worries and fears also need to be talked over with actual people though!). One mother who used our service several years ago reports that her son, aged eight, still used his Worry Dolls when things such as school bothered him.

 ‘I went through the (Tamariki) programme 4 years ago and it changed my life. I believe the course taught me what I am allowed to do and the rights others have, and that it has opened me up to support others in the same situation.

Every time I feel concerned or worried I will hold the Worry Doll I was given on the course and the problem will be gone.

I would like to thank all those in the organisation working to help others in need as it does leave a positive impact on their lives. I hope that in the future I can do something to support you. Thanks a lot.’

Tamariki programme participant

 

$40 to ‘Keep a Family Safe and Connected’

$40 buys an emergency mobile phone for a client at high risk of repeat family violence

For most, Christmas is a joyous time to connect with the ones we love. For some of our clients, Christmas will not be such a happy occasion. Your generosity will provide an emergency mobile phone that will keep them connected to the support that could actually save their lives this Christmas.

How does this gift help?

Those living with family violence often feel isolated from their support networks and, through controlling behaviours of their partner, can be left without the resources to keep themselves safe. By providing vulnerable clients with a mobile phone they are able to contact the police in case of emergency and reduce the risk of further harm. It also ensures that the Aviva team can keep in touch with them and they are better able to stay connected with their family and friends, reducing the isolation and fear that can occur when trying to move past a violent relationship.

‘I just feel very grateful the service was offered so freely. It made me feel a lot safer.’

Aviva Client

 

$60 to ‘Answer the Call for Help’

$60 ensures our 24-hour support line is answered during the night

Creating a life free from violence is not an easy journey and often the hardest step is the first, reaching out for help. We know that it’s vital to be there, 24 hours a day, to respond to that call and you can help to make that happen this Christmas.

How does this gift help?

Our 0800 AVIVA NOW line ensures that children, young people, women and men who have experienced violence, and/or used it, can access support whenever and wherever they need it. This ensures that those most vulnerable to violence in our community get the urgent support they need, any time of any day or night.

This phone line is often the first point of contact through which people access the range of local services they need. Following the February 2011 earthquake, calls to this number rose by over 50% and they have been sustained at that level ever since. Our after-hours team deal with people who are extremely emotionally – and often, physically – vulnerable, and so ensuring support is there at any time is extremely important in helping people to become safe.

“When people call, they realise that this confidential conversation will lead to the support they need. It can take weeks of courage and lots of personal energy to make that call; I appreciate how hard it is to pick up a phone and talk to a stranger and I thank them for that. I reassure them that what they’re feeling is a normal response to this abnormal situation. You do hear some difficult things but it’s important that we as a service can be part of that - crises don’t just happen 9am – 5pm.”

Aviva Support Line Worker

 

$100 to ‘Make the Children Smile’

$100 can make children overcoming family violence smile by providing resources and food for our education programmes

Christmas is a time to come together and share kai with the ones you love. Food is an important part of our children’s education programme too; you should see the smiles when it’s kai time! By providing resources and food for our children’s education programmes you can help spread some Christmas joy throughout the year.

How does this gift help?

Through the Tamariki programme we help children that have been exposed to family violence to discover their strengths, value and self-reliance, and to realise that a better, safer life is possible. Children are taught how to recognise abuse and where the responsibility for abusive behaviour belongs; this is often a huge relief for them, to realise that it is not their fault or responsibility. They are helped to develop their own support plans; learn about positive and acceptable behaviours and ways of expressing emotion; and experience a growing sense of safety and confidence. For every group we put on morning tea (without a doubt the children’s favourite part of each session!) They get a treat and some healthy food too, and it makes them feel very special.

‘I went through the (Tamariki) programme 4 years ago and it changed my life. I believe the course taught me what I am allowed to do and the rights others have, and that it has opened me up to support others in the same situation.

Every time I feel concerned or worried I will hold the Worry Doll I was given on the course and the problem will be gone.

I would like to thank all those in the organisation working to help others in need as it does leave a positive impact on their lives. I hope that in the future I can do something to support you. Thanks a lot.’

Tamariki programme participant

 

$150 to ‘Keep a Family at Home this Christmas’

$150 can help a family stay safely in their own home this Christmas by providing a home security check and a personal alarm.

Don’t you just love spending Christmas at home surrounded by all the special people in your life? Life isn’t like that for every family, but your generosity could make this dream a reality another family in our community. What a priceless gift to give!

How does this gift help?

Being safe in your own home – your own refuge from the world and its worries – is something most of us take for granted. For many of our clients, the reality is exactly opposite. Through the Shine safe@home programme, Aviva provides physical security upgrades and alarms to the homes of those at highest risk of repeat family violence enabling hundreds of vulnerable adults and their children to stay in their homes, safely. This service is a more sustainable, and fairer, option than having to leave home and enter a temporary safe house. It allows families to stay in their own homes, continue to attend work and school, and be surrounded by their support network of family, friends and neighbours. We have made more than three times as many people safe in their own home than we would have done in a safe house, and our client self-evaluations show that they, and their children, are not only safer, but experiencing vastly improved wellbeing as a result.

“The kids were quite scared that he would come back and hurt us, and I was sleeping with a golf club next to the bed. I thought, ‘right, it’s time to get help’ and I reported him to Police. Soon after I was called by Aviva – they moved really fast, it was amazing.

Now I have a personal alarm on me and the security measures such as the peephole and extra locks have made me and the kids feel a lot safer. We haven’t had an incident since and we’re all sleeping better. When the violence was going on, my five year old was having behavioural issues, playing up and being aggressive at school; that’s all stopped now, and he’s calm again.”

Aviva Shine safe@home client

 

 

 

Addressing Family Violence with 'Ideas worth Sharing'

23rd of November, 2017

A four-minute speech as part of a ‘Broadly Speaking’ evening earlier in the year led to an invitation for our CEO, Nicola Woodward, to present her thoughts about contemporary approaches to addressing family violence at the TEDx Christchurch event in September. TEDx is an international movement that brings people together to spark discussion and share thought-provoking ideas – “Ideas Worth Spreading”.

Nicola shared her views on the need to reframe our approaches to family violence. In particular she challenged the notion that refuge - first established in New Zealand in 1973 by Christchurch Women’s Refuge - should still be our default response in 2017 for those experiencing violence.

Nicola explained, “I believe that the concept of refuge in contemporary New Zealand society is paradoxical and unjust. As women, we are not intrinsically vulnerable to violence. Vulnerability is the consequence of extrinsic inequalities. Remove these and we remove the need for protection.”

You can watch Nicola’s talk at the TEDx Christchurch YouTube site https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0S043ZgitM.

 

Aviva Wins Community Impact Award

6th of October, 2017

We're very proud to announce that Aviva was named winner in the Medium-Large Community Impact category of the 2017 Champion Canterbury Business Awards. 

In a category with stiff competition from Cholmondeley Children's Home, the SPCA and Pathway, and so to win was a real endorsement of the work that Aviva does.

 

It was also an acknowledgment of people living with and overcoming family violence.

Thanks you to everyone who supports Aviva, in whatever way you do so. We're all part of a team that is privileged to support people on their journeys to violence-free lives.

 

 

Achieving Lofty Ambitions

24th of April, 2017

We are almost one year in our new home at The Loft! This time last year the space was still under construction, and now we are planning our one-year anniversary celebration.

The Loft opened to the public on 4 July 2016. Initially Family Help Trust and Aviva were the two agencies to take up residence; since then we have been joined by staff from Caring for Carers, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Community Law, Dual Recovery Network, He Waka Tapu, Plunket and NZ Red Cross.

We all hoped it would be a place that would make service and support-seeking easier and more accessible to people, and enable the agencies within it to work together in new ways to enhance client outcomes; all of that is happening. By the end of March 2017 approximately 300 people unconnected with any agency within had walked in the door of The Loft to seek advice, information or support. Almost half of those are seeking support with family violence issues, and the vast majority of those are referred to Aviva.

It is great to hear and see people from different agencies go to each other’s desks to talk about clients and the support they need. Apart from sharing information about services, we have been able to share donations of food and goods for clients. This growing relationship is reinforced by participation the front-of-house Navigator roster, which requires all client-facing staff to learn about the other services available here in order to provide appropriate referrals to people who walk in the door without any prior agency connection. We have also made connections with other local groups and networks, learning about what is on offer locally, and what The Loft and its agencies can contribute.


An Example of The Loft in Action

Melissa* was in financial difficulties, with a huge outstanding electricity bill when she came to The Loft to find out about a No Interest Loan (part of the microfinance options offered by Aviva). She had tried other agencies but they couldn’t help her.

Unfortunately she didn’t meet the criteria for the loan but, thinking outside the square, our front-of-house team considered how The Loft might support her. Our Navigator contacted the Mayor’s Welfare Fund, then linked her to the Woolston Development Project for support going to WINZ, and to Kingdom Resources for budgeting advice. Meanwhile, our Receptionist contacted Globug to get connection details to help her manage her electricity better in the future. By the end of the interaction the client’s whole demeanour had changed, and she was really happy with the help she received from The Loft team.       


We have created a Loft evaluation form for clients and feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of people saying that they would recommend The Loft to others.

*not her real name

 

Motivated to Help

24th of April, 2017

“I get to help people live their lives free of family violence; I love it.”

Since July 2016 Aviva has been part of a new pilot response to family violence called the Integrated Safety Response (ISR). ISR sees core agencies such as Police, Child Youth and Family, Corrections, Health, specialist family violence NGOs and kaupapa Maori services work more closely together as a team to provide intensive support to families to whom Police have been called in relation to family violence, or when a potentially high-risk person is going to be released from prison. The aim is to provide more intense, immediate and comprehensive support that will lead to increased safety for those who have experienced violence, and a reduction in repeat offending. If successful in its aims, this response may be rolled out throughout the country.

Aviva provides the high risk Independent Victim Specialist (IVS) service and Perpetrator Outreach Services (POS) components of this pilot. One of our IVS is Katie Dixon, who joined Aviva in September 2016. Her role is to connect with women and children identified as high risk by the six-day per week Safety Assessment Meeting (the ‘SAM table’).

“The first thing I do is look at all of the information and review the file, to identify if there are any gaps in the information that might be relevant to our response” says Katie. “Then I have to consider how best to approach that woman (Katie’s adult clients are all female) – is it by phone, face-to-face, or through a visit by, or with, someone else? I try to engage her so that she trusts me enough to start the journey with me.”

The focus of Katie’s work is to decrease the current risk and increase safety for the woman and any children she may have. Katie will assess what supports the woman has in place and what she might need, to see if other referrals (e.g. for housing, or mental health issues) are required. She will undertake safety planning in relation to the home, and school or pre-school. Katie also attends the weekly Integrated Case Management (ICM) meetings at which all high risk cases are discussed, as well as other meetings related to specific families she is helping support.

Typically Katie will work with approximately 12 women at a time; some will be requiring intensive support for high risk situations, whilst others may be transitioning to lower risk levels and require less support. The pilot sets a preferred limit of 12 weeks maximum support, but this is not always realistic says Katie. It may take some time and effort to get someone to engage in the first place (Katie has an 80% engagement rate), before work can begin. Once immediate risk is decreased, women or children may be referred to Aviva’s education programmes, or for individual, ongoing support with a Family Support Worker or our Children’s Worker.

Ideally, when a high risk report goes to the SAM table, the person using violence will be contacted by a POS, and the person who has been assaulted will be contacted by an IVS. However, in reality this is not always possible. The abusive person may have current charges in place which are being acted on first, or they may not be aware of the disclosure of violence by the victim, so contact by a POS could put the victim at higher risk says Katie. “But I’ve seen some good results where we have been able to engage on both sides - better results than just engaging with one partner.”

Whilst the work is intense and can be difficult, Katie wouldn’t want to do anything else. “I love my job” she says emphatically. “I get the opportunity to work with women, and their children, who are experiencing family violence and I can help them make changes. Being able to provide the right support at the right time is really motivating. I get to help people live their lives free of family violence; I love it.”