Echo: a pioneering new project putting the voices of survivors at the heart of local responses to domestic abuse

Survivors from across Bolton, Leicestershire and Sheffield are being invited to lead change and help transform how communities prevent and respond to domestic abuse

SafeLives, the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, is today announcing the start of a pioneering new project to transform local responses to domestic abuse, and is calling on survivors across Bolton, Leicestershire and Sheffield to have their voices heard.

As part of the £1.44m Echo project, local survivors of domestic abuse are being invited to share their insight and lived experience. This approach will ensure that survivor expertise is put at the heart of domestic abuse prevention and will inform the design and delivery of dedicated support for all victims and their families. Every survivor should have the right response for them, at the right time for them. As such, Echo will welcome voices from all communities, and adult and child survivors alike.

Community services supporting local voices

SafeLives is working alongside leading local services who will ensure that survivors are supported to share their voices safely, empowering them to use their experiences to help change and save lives.

In Bolton, SafeLives is working closely with frontline domestic abuse services Endeavour and Fortalice. In Leicestershire, it has partnered with Living Without Abuse and, in Sheffield, with Sheffield Mind and Haven.

It is also working closely with Bolton City Council, Leicestershire County Council and Sheffield City Council to embed survivor voices at the centre of design and delivery of domestic abuse policies and services.

The scale and impact of domestic abuse cannot be overstated. Data suggests that over 230k people across Bolton, Leicestershire and Sheffield have experienced domestic abuse at some point in their lives since the age of 16*. Nationally, by the time they start school, at least one child in every classroom will have been living with domestic abuse since they were born. We need to tackle domestic abuse at both national and local levels and to do that we must listen to the authentic voice of all survivors of domestic abuse – adults, children and young people.

Survivors of domestic abuse are experts by experience and bring unparalleled insight into what works, and what doesn’t. We cannot address domestic abuse without their voices. Crucially, we must hear from those who often go unheard whether due to age, gender, background or marginalisation. Only when all voices are heard can we make sure that all victims and survivors are supported at the right time, in the right way.

Emma Robinson, Interim Director of Quality and Innovation at SafeLives

Shana Begum, SafeLives Pioneer who is helping lead the project in Bolton, said:

Incorporating Authentic Voice into systems and services is not a luxury, but a necessity. Project Echo, the first of its kind in Bolton, Leicestershire and Sheffield, will give survivors a voice and a platform to influence change in domestic abuse services. The project values the lived experiences of survivors and aims to shape local services based on what is working and what needs improvement. It helps change the perception of individuals and families affected by domestic abuse and builds an infrastructure that truly meets the needs of the community.

Annie, SafeLives Pioneer, helping lead the project in Sheffield said:

I am proud to be the lead Pioneer in Sheffield for Project Echo. As a survivor I know that nothing should ever be about us without us. I truly hope Echo will be the start of a domino effect, inspiring others to follow and ensuring that survivor voices become embedded across all responses to harmful practices, domestic and sexual abuse. Only then can we ensure organisations involved in creating safe spaces are fully informed by what we need to overcome abuse. By using our voices we hope Echo will inspire more survivors to come forward to seek help and empower them to use their own skills to create change.

Echo’s achievements across the three areas will help deliver a national blueprint for embedding child and adult domestic abuse survivors’ voices in community approaches to domestic abuse. In fact, the name ‘Echo’ was designed and chosen by SafeLives Pioneers and Changemakers to reflect this novel approach.

As Maya, a SafeLives Changemaker explained:

The name ‘Echo’ was chosen to reflect the project's core goal; ensuring that the voices of survivors are heard, shared, and amplified throughout the research and design process or, in other words, ‘echoed’ throughout the domestic abuse response. It also highlights our intention to ‘echo’ this survivor-centred approach across all three locations, ensuring consistency and impact in our work. Through this approach, we aim to create sustainable, survivor-led models that will help drive long term, positive change for those affected by domestic abuse.

How survivors can get involved

From sharing feedback through surveys and interviews, taking part in workshops and group sessions, to co- production and development, there are different ways for survivors to be involved with Echo. The project takes an inclusive approach that welcomes voices from all communities, from adult and child survivors alike.

Learn more about Echo

Any local survivor wishing to get involved can register their interest below.

Register your interest

SafeLives is also inviting survivors and professionals working with them to a webinar on Thursday 25th July to learn more about Echo and how to get involved.

Sign up to the webinar

Welcoming Echo to Bolton, Leicestershire and Sheffield

Echo is a collaboration with partners across the three areas, who welcomed the news saying:


Sheffield Mind is very pleased to be part of this important work. The Authentic Voice approach will provide vital testimony and evidence, to ensure that survivor experience is put at the heart of domestic abuse prevention work. We’re looking forward to working with Safe Lives. This UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse will support and coordinate the work with passion and expertise.
We’re also looking forward to working with our Sheffield colleagues at Haven Domestic Abuse Charity and with partners from Bolton and Leicestershire, all of us working tougher towards a goal of embedding survivor voices into the design and delivery of domestic abuse policies and services. We want survivors to be heard and we’ll offer supportive and creative ways to facilitate that input. There will be many ways for survivors to get involved and we’ll work with participants every step of the way, co-producing ways in which individuals and communities can share their voices safely and effectively.

Margaret Lewis, CEO of Sheffield Mind

Our vision at Haven is that every child and young person impacted by domestic abuse has access to safety and support and is empowered to shape their own future.
We are passionate about delivering inclusive and creative solutions that adapt to the ever- changing needs of these children and their families, to break down barriers, intervene early and provide the necessary support guided by a trauma-informed and child centred approach. This allows us to hear and respond to the voices of children (victims in their own right, under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021) that are so often unseen and unheard. We are really excited to be part of the SafeLives Echo Project and are dedicated to ensuring that we capture the perspectives and experiences of children affected by domestic abuse, in Sheffield, to help shape what is needed for their future and the National response to policy, prevention and services.

Samira Gjerde, CEO at Haven in Sheffield


Living Without Abuse has worked tirelessly for more than 45 years to help victims of domestic and sexual abuse – offering a wide range of services and advice to help and support them. Domestic abuse does not discriminate - regardless of age, background, sexuality, ethnicity or gender, domestic abuse can harm the lives of anybody. It is vital that all these voices are given a safe place to speak – and that they are listened to. Their contribution is essential to influence policy, raise awareness and empower survivors to shape their futures and create an effective support network for those victim-survivors who come after them.

Emily Corrigan, Head of Fundraising, Living Without Abuse in Leicestershire

Being a part of Project Echo is going to be hugely positive for victims and families of domestic abuse across Leicestershire.
Working with survivors and learning from their experiences to co-design services will ensure the victims voice is at the centre of domestic abuse commissioning, enabling vulnerable adults and children to access the right support at the right time for them.

Jane Moore, Director of Children and Family Services at Leicestershire County Council


Fortalice is delighted to lead on the authentic voice of a child who has suffered domestic abuse. Fortalice has done a lot of work over the years to ensure the diverse range of services provided by them in Bolton meets the needs of both children and adult, victims and survivors. The new Children and Young People’s hub has been developed by listening to children and parent’s needs. The partnership with Safelives will give us an additional opportunity to expand the work currently being completed by Fortalice.

Dr (hc) Gill Smallwood MBE, Chief Executive, Fortalice Limited in Bolton

Endeavour is a Community Domestic Abuse charity, set up by a survivor group in response to need. For 27 years we have been working with women, men, vulnerable young adults, and children who are escaping and recovering from Domestic Abuse in all its forms. The majority of the Endeavour team, at every level of the organisation from Trustees, employees, and volunteers, are survivors.
We believe survivors are best placed to speak on issues that affect them and are vital to work towards ending domestic abuse. By listening and responding to survivors we can address challenges together and ensure local services are shaped by their experience to strive for better provision. We are delighted to be part of the SafeLives Echo Project in Bolton and look forward to working alongside survivors at the heart of the project.

Jill Caldwell, Chief Executive at Endeavour, Bolton

Note to editor

*Prevalence estimations are based on the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) year ending March 2020 where the prevalence of domestic abuse since 16 for women aged 16-74 was 27.6% and for men was 13.8%. The local estimations use the same national prevalence rates from the CSEW. There will be local area differences in prevalence of domestic abuse which have not been accounted for here. All estimations have been rounded down to the nearest 500.

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