Safe at Home in Scotland

COVID-19 has presented new challenges for everyone, but particularly for adults and children living with domestic abuse, and the professionals working hard to support them. As we start considering and planning for what post-lockdown might look like, we need to remember that home is still not a safe space for many.

We are engaging with domestic abuse services and other professionals across Scotland who are working to support adult and child victims and survivors of domestic abuse. We want to hear about your needs and collectively start thinking about longer-term recovery and resilience planning. 

We are running engagement sessions with specialist and mainstream services who are working to support adult and child victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Scotland, both in the third sector and in statutory agencies. The sessions will allow us to share practice, voice questions and draw on the expertise of colleagues in the sector, as we look to COVID-19 recovery planning. 

We will be updating this page regularly with the key themes and findings that emerge from this call. This information will also be shared with the Scottish Government, COSLA (The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) and other stakeholders to inform their planning and support for the sector going forward. Our aim is to add to and complement work happening at local and national level.

Domestic Abuse Network

The invite list for our engagement meetings is currently full.  Due to the level of interest, we have had to limit numbers and prioritise frontline domestic abuse services. However, we also want to ensure there are channels for those unable to join to feed in. To make sure we capture the views of the wider network, including practitioners and strategic leads outside the meetings, we have set up an engagement form. This is an opportunity for you to feed into and share the findings from this work, either as an individual or on behalf of your service or VAW partnership.  

Key themes and findings 

We'll be uploading key themes and findings that emerge from each of our engagement meetings. 

Meeting 1: June 2020

In the first meeting, we explored the challenges and needs of services as we prepare to move out of lockdown.

Read the briefing paper.

Meeting 2: July 2020

The second meeting explored staff resilience and wellbeing, looking at the impact of COVID-19. 

Read the briefing paper.

Meeting 3: August 2020

Our third meeting looked at minority and migrant victims and survivors, and explored some of the specific challenges they face when trying to access support. 

Read the briefing paper. 

Meeting 4: September 2020

Our fourth meeting looked at supporting victims and survivors with housing needs, and explored some of the challenges Covid-19 has presented. 

Read the briefing paper. 

Meeting 5: October 2020

In the fifth meeting we looked at supporting children through Covid-19 and some of the challenges around child contact. 

Read the briefing paper.

Meeting 6: November 2020

In our sixth meeting, we explored what services need to effectively support victims with mental health needs.

Read the briefing paper. 

Meeting 7: February 2021

In our February meeting, we looked at whether things had changed much since the last meeting in November, exploring sector sustainability, challenges to 'usual' practice, as well as looking at positives of innovation. 

Read the briefing paper.

Meeting 8: March 2021

In our March meeting, we looked at reflection and resilience, as we marked one year of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Read the briefing paper. 

Survivor consultation

This is a very difficult and challenging time, with much uncertainty around the corner. Many of us have been isolated in our homes and for some, home is not a place of safety. We want to understand how you feel and what you need, as we move out of lockdown and into the 'new normal'. 

We ran a short survey to hear from victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Scotland about their experiences during Covid-19. As it can be hard to safely reach people currently experiencing abuse, especially during a pandemic, the response rate was quite low, but the survivors who did respond have given us really valuable insight into their needs. 

Read the findings from our survivor consultation. 

Lockdown brought up feelings of isolation I felt at the time of the abuse...hearing about how others felt sorry for themselves in isolation made me feel resentful as nobody cared about my isolation during abuse.

Throughout the Safe at Home in Scotland project, the additional challenges facing migrant and Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) survivors have been repeatedly raised by services. Many of these pre-exist COVID-19. But many have been compounded by the pandemic. Shakti Women’s Aid, a specialist domestic abuse service supporting BME and migrant victims, assisted us in setting up an online focus group through which we heard from five women about their experiences during COVID-19.

Read a summary of our consultation with BME Survivors

Read the full report of our consultation with BME Survivors

Guidance and resources

For people experiencing domestic abuse

It's important to know that you are not alone. Even if you are unable to leave your home at the moment, you can still access support through Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage helpline on 0800 027 1234. 

You can also access our Directory of Domestic Abuse Services in Scotland, where you can find national services, and an interactive map where you can find out what's near you by clicking on your local area.

The Scottish Government have issued signposting to support people in Scotland, as well as guidance for those leaving home due to abuse.

Public Health Scotland, SafeLives and partners have published easy read posters to highlight the risks of Gender-Based Violence during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In this podcast created by the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Jen Douglas, SafeLives’ Engagement Lead, discusses how to get support if you, or someone you know, needs it.

Resources for parents and children

Domestic abuse impacts the whole family, especially when schools are closed and children are at home. The Scottish Courts have issued guidance on child contact orders and you can read the Scottish Government's guidance on childcare provision for key workers. 

For family, friends, neighbours and colleagues 

Through our #ReachIn campaign, we are sharing information and resources for anyone in the community who wants to know about safely checking on someone they are worried about. In this blog, Nicola, a Scottish survivor, explains her own experience of the support that was available around her.

For professionals 

The Scottish Government and COSLA have produced COVID-19 Supplementary National Violence Against Women Guidance, to ensure that collaborative responses to women, children and young people affected by VAWG continue to be prioritised as part of the wider strategic response to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Scottish Government have released a Justice Analytical Services report on domestic abuse and VAWG during COVID-19 lockdown, for the period 30/03/20 - 22/05/20

SafeLives and The Scottish Government have created a Domestic Abuse Awareness Raising Tool - an e-learning resource for professionals to raise awareness and understanding of domestic abuse and coercive control. 

Thank you to all the Marac representatives who completed our Scottish COVID-19 Marac survey. Read the survey results.

For police

In this podcast, Lucy McDonald, Scotland Programme Lead at SafeLives, speaks to Assistant Chief Constable Duncan Sloan, of Police Scotland, about how the police in Scotland are responding to domestic abuse during the current crisis. 

Download the transcript

You can also visit our dedicated COVID-19 and Domestic Abuse webpage to see our full range of guidance and resources for professionals, victims and survivors across the UK.  

To keep up to date with our latest work and findings in Scotland, please sign up to our Scottish newsletter

For more information about our work in Scotland, please contact scotland@safelives.org.uk