Organisations who work to tackle domestic abuse in Norfolk and Suffolk have been visiting the James Paget University Hospital this week to raise awareness among staff at the Trust.
Over three days local domestic abuse agencies were in the hospital’s staff restaurant to offer information and advice to any members of staff who may need it on a personal level, and to raise awareness of the signs to help talk about the issue with patients and visitors if necessary.
The visits – by Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum, Leeway and Lighthouse Women’s Aid – come after 26 members of James Paget staff were trained to be Domestic Abuse Champions. They will act as a point of contact for staff, patients and visitors and anyone who may be in an abusive relationship can approach them for advice and signposting to further assistance.
The new champions are identifiable by a small dark blue badge and have been trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of abuse and to realise the impact it has on the individual, family and wider society. Although today, collectively and professionally, we are far more likely to talk about domestic abuse it can still be difficult for victims to speak out.
Domestic abuse is not just about violence, it can include intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation of individuals from friends and family and using economic abuse such as preventing a partner from getting or keeping a job, taking money or giving a restricted allowance.
It is recognised that domestic abuse can affect anyone – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or age – but that many factors can combine so that individuals feel unable to break the pattern and move away from the relationship. Those in abusive relationships need to be able to first identify that they are in such a relationship and then find the courage to talk to someone about it.
Jane Oldman, from the James Paget Safeguarding team, who has been co-ordinating both the training and the events this week, said more champions would be trained in the New Year.
“This is a new programme and we have 26 champions so far who come from a variety of departments around the hospital. The training includes information around MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) and DASH (Domestic Abuse, Sexual assault, Harassment and Honour based violence) referrals for the highest risk victims as well as procedures to follow after a disclosure of abuse.
“Champions are also trained to be aware of issues such as sexual violence, forced marriage and ‘honour’ based abuse and to advocate for effective support. The aim is to make the hospital a place where people affected by domestic abuse can be supported from first contact to reduce risk and prevent harm.”