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Working together to end domestic violence and abuse.

Katy Connelly shares her day in the life of a domestic abuse support worker. I work in Ystradgynlais, South Powys and my day usually starts around 9am, but this can change depending on the needs of the service.

My role within Calan is a unique role as I manage the area of Ystradgynlais as a lone worker. My computer lives in a multi-agency office in Ysgol Golwg Y Cwm. I share this space with Action for Children, Flying Start, Communities first and health visiting. There are also ‘hot desks’ within the office so that another agency or teacher can use this space. I can also book out two rooms within the school to meet with families; one is a smaller room to enable me to meet one to one with service users and a larger room which can be booked to deliver the Freedom programme and Recovery Toolkit.

On a typical day, my day would normally start with my first client in at 9am, my first clients are usually parents who drop their children off to the school. This does save journey time on both sides. During this time my clients can discuss anything that is bothering them at the time and we explore how to make their lives better. I could suggest referrals to other agencies, MARAC referrals or fire safety referrals so that the client feels safer at home. Some clients prefer meeting at the school as this provides an additional safety mechanism for them especially if they are accessing the service and are still in the relationship; they can tell their friends and family that they have returned home late because they were meeting with the teachers or accessing one of the amazing community events that Communities first provide in the school.

After this appointment, I might have some time to catch up on my emails, write up my notes and action any referrals or telephone calls that I need to do on behalf of my clients. I am also contacting clients by telephone to make new appointments and to deal with any problems as they arise. Teachers and classroom assistants will also pop into the office during this time for advice and information from me and others.

I might have another appointment mid-morning. This time, I’m on the move; I’m off out to see a client at home. South Powys is a rural area so I may have to drive a fair distance to see the client. This client has asked to see me again, she explained that she needed further advice as her ex-partner and father to her children has written to requesting mediation and court action for access to the children. This client had been threatened with a licensed shotgun when she first accessed the service.

1.30 arrives and it is time for my lunch break, I usually sit in the staffroom and eat my lunch with the other members of the community office and teachers who had been on playground duty. This is the first time that I have caught up with my colleagues all day. We try to avoid talking about work during lunch, but sometimes this is not possible as we are usually all working with the same families.

Once my lunch break is over, I usually see another client, either I travel to see a client at home, who cannot drive and has a two year old at home. I may also see another parent at the school before pick up time.

Once this appointment has finished, it’s pick up time at the school, often parents will ask to see me briefly to pass on messages before they pick up their children. I find that the mad rush of the school day is over and I have a bit more time to catch up on my note writing, emails, telephone calls and referrals.

By 4.30, my day is coming to a close; I am preparing to do my on call shift, my colleagues in refuge send me an email update of the residents that night. If I need any more information, I’ll make a quick telephone call for a verbal handover. I pass on a quick update to my on call buddy who will accompany me on a call out this evening but works in the office as a health visitor.