Birmingham and Solihull local authority figures estimate that around 109,000 women and girls each year are affected by domestic violence and abuse.
And to these women we offer a free, confidential helpline service and operate a free, confidential drop-in service where women are able to speak to a female support worker face-to-face. Workers are specially trained to offer information and guidance on a range of subjects ranging from personal safety and housing to court and legal proceedings.
We also provide emergency refuge accommodation. Our six safe and secure refuges across Birmingham and Solihull are carefully designed to provide a nurturing and supportive space in which women and their children feel supported and able to take time away from the pressure of an abusive situation and begin to rebuild their lives.
We operate a Housing Options Hub for women affected by domestic violence and abuse in Birmingham. This is where specially trained housing support workers advise women seeking safe accommodation, as well as providing practical and emotional support.
Using our extensive network of partners and contacts, our skilled drop-in team can also signpost women toward specialist services and expert support outside of BSWA, keeping women connected with other organisations and agencies capable of supporting their safety, ensuring an understanding of their legal rights and empowering them to make change.
We take a whole family approach to our support. We work to protect children by empowering and supporting the non-abusing mother. We call this ‘Think Family’.
Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences MARAC
We represent and advocate for women at high risk of serious harm at regular local meetings called MARACs. Attended by our specialist domestic abuse workers, police, children’s social services, health and other relevant agencies the confidential sessions discuss support for and share information about the victim, the family and perpetrator.
MARAC IDVAs roles are to support victims of domestic violence and abuse, focusing on those at high risk of harm from intimate partners, ex-partners or family members to secure their safety and the safety of their children.
Serving as a victim’s primary point of contact, IDVAs normally work on a one-to-one basis with women to assess their level of risk, offering emotional and practical support, safety planning, support with housing needs and will advocate for women with other agencies who are tasked with offering support.
IDVAs are pro-active in implementing support plans, which address immediate safety, including both practical steps to protect themselves and their children, alongside longer-term solutions. These plans will include actions from the MARAC as well as sanctions and remedies available through the criminal and civil courts, housing options and services available through other organisations. IDVAs support and work over the short- to medium-term to put women and their families on the path to long-term safety.
We also have Court IDVAs who provide support services for women who are engaged with the criminal justice system, from the point at which an arrest has been made up until the court proceedings have ended.
The Court IDVA will keep women updated about court dates, and court and bail application outcomes, and offer general support. She will also undertake pre-court visits with witnesses so that they have some understanding of what will happen when they attend court and will accompany people to court and support them on the day. The Court IDVA will help women remain strong and empowered through a process which can feel daunting.
The IDVA can also provide information, advice and support on the civil processes (Non-Molestation Orders, Occupation Orders, and Child Contact etc.) and put women in touch with a solicitor to progress these.
NHS and Health partnerships
We have a trained NHS IDVA service within the Umbrella Clinic in Birmingham. Umbrella provide free and confidential sexual health services in Birmingham & Solihull. We also have IDVAs based at UHB trust hospitals, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. Working with the IRISi scheme we work at GP practices to support their teams to identify and offer support to patients who disclose domestic abuse as part of their health consultation.
Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes DVPPs
We also take part in national and regional intervention initiatives and DVPPs created to challenge the behaviour of serial perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse, to reduce future incidents and create behavioural change. As a women’s organisation, we do not get involved in support for, or work with, the perpetrator but do support the female partners, ex-partners and family members who have been victims of the perpetrator taking part in the initiative.
One such specialist programme – DRIVE – works intensively with perpetrators of domestic abuse over a 12-month period. Its aim is to reduce and prevent future abuse and increase the safety of the women and children who have previously been affected by the perpetrators behaviour. The programme employs a whole-system approach including an intensive case management system backed by multi-agency support. Specific to this programme BSWA offers support to the women affected by the perpetrators selected for the programme to ensure no further harm is experienced as a result of the intervention.