So here goes… A day in the life of a First Contact, Advice and Engagement Worker starts with checking my emails. The emails that are normally in first thing in the morning are referrals from the Live Fear Free Helpline.
The referrals are of victims wanting to access support after a Police Protection Notice has been submitted to the Live Fear Free Helpline. Other emails that are normally found are referrals from other agencies such as Social Services, Health Professionals, Housing Organisations, Education, Probation, IDVA’s and other local organisations of victims in need of support. Once I have read the details in the emails I then make contact with the victim to offer support.
The phone often begins to ring as soon as the Assia Suite approaches opening time with victims wanting to access support. The process I use on the phone is usually establishing firstly if the victim is safe where they are. On the occasion a victim is not safe then it becomes paramount to help them become safe, this can involve encouraging the victim to phone the police or leave the property. If the victim is safe then I would ask them if they want to come in for an assessment and book them in for an appointment. Often the phone rings because a victim just wants to be listened to and a phone conversation becomes their only escape.
I also check my emails as I come in to ensure I am up to date before I get started on my appointments or possible drop ins. The Assia Suite normally receives emails from other organisations referring victims for assessments. The Assia Suite email also receives emails from victims that can sometimes only contact via email because it is safer. I normally reply to all emails in the morning so that any further actions can be completed throughout the day. If I have been on call that previous night then I will also send an email to update all staff also working on call information of any incidents.
My first appointment normally comes in at 10am, at this point I have prepared my assessment pack and the room is booked. When the victim arrives I take them to the room I booked and introduce myself and explain what to expect from the appointment and Calan DVS. I then ask the victim if they could sign the declaration and confidentiality forms to ensure they consent to their information being stored and any referrals being completed in order for the appointment to progress. Whilst completing the initial assessment and the SaferLives risk assessment I gather as much information so that I can make informed decisions for the support a victim may require. The services the Assia Suite refers to are MARAC, Safeguarding, Refuge, Fire, Safer Homes, Support in the Community, Freedom, and other external agencies.
An appointment can normally take an hour but if the client is high risk then this can often take longer. Victims can be a standard, medium or high risk but this does not affect them accessing support. The victim’s level of risk is identified through the SaferLives risk assessment and if it meets the threshold then is automatically referred to MARAC. A victim of domestic abuse may have experienced physical, psychological, harassment, trafficking, emotional, financial, stalking, female genital mutilation, sexual, isolation, forced marriage and coercive control. The domestic abuse experienced can be current or historical for the victim to access support.
Once an assessment has been completed the victim will be given the opportunity to discuss referrals for support. Any decisions for referrals made on behalf of the client will be made jointly with the client unless there is a significant risk such as a child protection issue. It is then my responsibility to ensure all referrals are completed in order of priority. If a client is currently with any other services such as social services then with the consent of the victim I will ring to update social services that the victim has attended the Assia Suite.
I also provide the victim with alarms to victims that may require additional security measures on the property. Victims are also given information leaflets with information about what the service provides and information relating to the victims situation. If the client is unable to take any information leaflets then there are alternative items that can be provided to conceal information from the perpetrator.
The phone usually rings throughout the day with victims wanting to access support and services enquiring about victims already accessing the service. Victims can drop in to the service at any time so packs are prepared. Services such as Bridgend County Borough Council housing solutions often require us to carry out assessments on persons accessing their service if they believe they have experienced domestic abuse. If a person accessing BCBC is experiencing domestic abuse then BCBC require written confirmation after a full assessment has been completed.
Normally around 12.30pm it’s time to stop for a 30 minute lunch break but this quickly passes and I’m ready for my next appointment. Every two weeks the Assia Suite holds a legal clinic in which a solicitor will attend and provide half hour appointments for victims of domestic abuse. The legal clinic offers eight appointments and the victims that attend are placed on the waiting list and contacted in order. On the day of the legal clinic I ensure all appointments are taken to the room and any documents photocopied. I also provide the solicitor with a list of appointments booked in for legal clinic that day. The solicitor normally attended from 10am to 3pm.
Whilst I do not attend MARAC meetings I am required to provide MARAC updates on victims that have accessed the service. If a victim has accessed the service and is on the MARAC list as a high risk victim I provide the update if I have had contact. This is done to keep services that attend MARAC up to date with where the client is and what other services they are accessing. If required then I attend MARAC to provide further information on a victim that I have referred myself.
For the rest of the afternoon I ensure my paper work is completed and answer any phone calls that come through. I contact any appointments booked in for the following day to ensure they are attending or to book them in for a more convenient time. I ensure all my notes are updated on the computer so if a victim contacts a colleague then my colleague will also be able to support the victim. As the day ends I leave the office knowing that I have done my best to help victims of domestic abuse.
Finally when I finish I’m on to on call at 5pm and waiting around for if the phone rings. If the phone rings and it’s an emergency myself and a colleague also on call will attend the property. If it is not an emergency then I provide advice and guidance to the client. 8.30am comes the following day and I am handing over any incidents that may have happened to the next on call worker.
If you live in Bridgend you can contact the Assia Suite from 8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday on 01656 819515 or text 07811390803
You can email us Assia @calandvs.org.uk
Out of hours call the Live fear free helpline on 0808 80 10 800
In an emergency call the police on 999