We have been based here in Hexham for 15 years. The organisation was first established as a registered charity in 2003 under the name 608030. Then, we provided a specialist counselling service to women affected by domestic abuse in Tynedale.
Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services is launched
In 2015, 608030 came under new leadership and was relaunched as Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services, (NDAS). The organisation is in many ways the same, as our dedicated team of staff still work with women from across Tynedale, but our focus has shifted and in fact become much broader.
It was recognised at that point in time, that there is an urgent need for support across the county as a whole and acknowledgement that domestic abuse can have a devastating impact on individuals lives, families and communities. NDAS launched with the aim of addressing domestic violence from an inclusive and holistic perspective. We are committed to breaking the cycle of abuse through prevention education and awareness raising, and providing a service for anyone in need of practical and emotional support.
Over the past three years we have put a focus on addressing a number of key concerns and areas of unmet need:
Children and young people: A consultation was carried out in 2015 to review the current training, policies and procedures for identifying and supporting children and young people in Northumberland affected by domestic abuse. The research highlighted there was a lack of knowledge of services available – “children either don’t know what to do or where they can go to get help”. There was also a lack of understanding from children and young people in identifying abuse or being too young to speak for themselves. We now have a children's service; a domestic abuse children's practitioner offering support for families affected by domestic abuse, a specialist children's counsellor and a prevention worker delivering healthy relationship education to children and young people.
LGBT community: For many LGBT people, there are multiple, complex barriers to accessing support, and particularly accessing statutory services. We recognise the importance of community-based organisations as a source of support for LGBT people affected by domestic abuse. There are currently no LGBT specific refuges in England and Wales and less than 1% refuges provide specialist LGBT support. For this reason we feel it is crucial that we are an inclusive organisation responding to domestic violence in all relationships.
Men: In Northumberland there are limited services for men affected by domestic abuse, and as mentioned above, limited support for gay men. Although, statistically the number of men affected are considerably lower, we recognise that men do experience domestic abuse, and there is a dearth of support available here in what is a largely rural county.
We believe that domestic abuse is a gendered crime, rooted in inequality between genders, and as such we are committed to breaking the cycle of abuse, which we aim to do through our school and community prevention initiatives. Our prevention work is aimed at both men and women as we want to engage whole communities in shifting attitudes towards violence and abuse.
Rural: Owing to the largely rural geography of our county, there is a huge portion of our population living with limited access to services and support. Within rural communities, isolation and not being able travel due to lack of money or unavailable transport were highlighted as barriers for accessing support also health problems, or children not attending schools or youth groups. Our outreach workers cover the whole county and we are currently working with rural communities to develop networks in some of the most remote rural communities, where seeking support may be complex.
We aim to raise awareness within communities and in wider society, to challenge abusive behaviours, tackle stigma and shift norms around violence and abuse.
To speak to someone from our team, call us 01434 608030, or contact us by email.