My Working Day: Domestic Violence and Abuse Coordinator
I am a specialist Domestic Violence & Abuse Co-ordinator in one of the Early Help Hubs in Children and Families at Leeds City Council. The Hubs promote supporting children and families at an early stage when they are experiencing difficulties. I am in a multi disciplinary team that includes a Hub Manager, Early Help Practitioners, Early Intervention Police Officers, along with specialist workers in Mental Health and Substance Use.
My role in the Hub includes direct work and support with an adult or young person aged 16 or over who are or have experienced domestic abuse. I also provide guidance and support to professionals as well as delivering briefings and training sessions on a variety of aspects of domestic abuse.
My morning usually starts with some form of exercise or sport. This morning at 6am I was swimming outdoors, along with a few ducks and swans! There are a community of open water swimmers that frequent this location, including a couple of blokes who are training to swim the English channel, who are bare chested and in swimming short and some workers who like to unwind after their night shift. I drive back home, wash off my swim gear, googles, swim cap, safety buoy/tow float, have a hot shower, get dressed and have some hot cereal.
Today is a working from home day. At 8.30am I log onto my laptop, check emails, my outlook calendar and diary (I’m old school, I still like an A5 diary you can write in) and any texts and voicemail messages on my work mobile that I need to reply too.
At 9.30am I attend the Hub’s online daily pathway meeting and log on to Microsoft Teams. This is when the team have an opportunity to discuss any requests and referrals from Duty and Advice (Children and Families), schools, Clusters, health professionals like, Health Visitors. The meeting also gives a better insight into the work of the Hub Police Officers.
Following the pathway meeting which usually lasts for about an hour, it is time to make some phone calls to parents that I am providing support to. I speak to a mum who has been assigned to me on Mosaic (the electronic case management system used in Children and Families at the council). As it is the first time we have spoken I introduce myself and explain why I am ringing following a request from a Learning Mentor at the primary school in South Leeds, that the mum’s youngest child attends. She remembers speaking to the Learning Mentor about the child contact difficulties she is having with her ex-partner (who is dad to their three children) and giving consent to be contacted by myself. Mum wants to talk about the historic domestic abuse she went through with her ex-partner and how she ended the relationship. She still feels controlled by her ex-partner and feels he is using the children to get back at her. We discuss safety planning, legal options about protective orders, like a Non-Molestation Order (commonly known as an Injunction) because the children’s dad comes to the house to see the children and can be verbally abusive in front of them. I suggest to mum other ways of managing the child contact away from her home, seeing if other family members or friends can facilitate the contact. I explain to mum about completing a DASH risk assessment and the reasons why so I can assess her risk level. It comes out as medium. Mum is due to go out and we agree to talk tomorrow morning when she has dropped off the youngest child at school. I remind her I have a meeting at 9.30am, so we arrange to talk at 11am. I will check with mum if the children are needing any support which can be offered by the school, the Cluster or if there are any other children and family services that the family can access. I also need to pass on a list of Family Law Solicitors that mum may need to contact for legal advice.
Whilst I am on the phone, I have a missed call and voicemail. After my call, I pick up the message and it is from a Social Worker who would like some advice about a family he is working with and there is significant domestic abuse and parental conflict in the household. I make a note in my diary to ring him back. One of the Early Help Practitioners is trying to contact me via Skype on my work laptop, I type her a message to say I am on my mobile and will get back to her.
I type up my notes from my call with the mum, I also attach the DASH risk assessment.
Midday: I don’t have a set lunchtime and will eat as and when I am hungry. It’s hot outside so I use my break to have a walk on the local field to get some fresh air.
I am due to deliver an online briefing session on Coercive Control and Stalking to a team of Children Centre workers at 1pm so there isn’t time to make another call to another parent I am supporting. I make a skype call to my colleague in the Hub who wants to discuss a case that she has picked up on duty where there is ongoing domestic abuse. We agree to take it to tomorrow’s pathway meeting. I still need to get back to the Social Worker.
1-3pm – I deliver the online Coercive Control and Stalking briefing to 8 Children Centre workers and there is lots of discussion and interest. I agree to email the link to the evaluation, a copy of the briefing slides and some additional support services and links.
I have a short break, then make a call to another parent I am supporting because she is only free to talk in the afternoon, her mobile goes to voicemail and she has already let me know that it is safe to leave a message and text. Hopefully I will speak to her tomorrow.
I get back to the Social Worker who rang me earlier. He is in the process of completing a Child And Family Assessment (CAFA) and would like to know if I can do some work with a mum and dad who want to stay together and there is ongoing domestic abuse. I explained my Hub role and the support I can provide to a parent who is the survivor of domestic abuse and I am unable to work with couples who want to stay in an abusive relationship. I suggested some support services, including Caring Dads, Respect (who have an advice line for perpetrators of domestic abuse). I acknowledged with the Social Worker that it is difficult to find support for couples. He now has my contact details and can make contact if he wants any guidance and support in the future.
It’s coming up to 4.30pm, I start filling up my diary for the next day, including anything I haven’t been able to finish today.
End of the day: My partner is out later with the curry club crew he meets up with every fortnight. That means snacking on whatever takes my fancy, pjs on, feet up and I have got the TV to myself!! That means watching something that has fantastic scenery like Scotland, Cornwall, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales or watching something on catch up, like a gritty drama series, Vigil or something a bit more comical like Good Girls on Netflix. I nod off in front of the tv, I will have to catch up again tomorrow!