Mirka Naplavova is the lead Complex Needs Idva at The Dash Charity, having worked for the service in various roles for over ten years. Mirka supports clients at high risk of serious harm or murder, with complex needs such as substance misuse, mental health, offending, homelessness, sex working and more. She supports clients through crisis intervention, safety planning, individual support plans and anything else they need. Mirka also has an MSc in International Criminal Justice.
What made you decide to work with people experiencing domestic abuse?
I have witnessed a lot of domestic abuse and violence growing up, so when I saw the outreach worker role advertised ten years ago, I applied.
What keeps you going when the work gets tough?
I think it is the clients and the desire to make a difference and achieve the best possible outcomes. I have learnt to cope well under pressure and I love the complexity of the cases. And also, it is the team here at The Dash Charity. Some of us have worked here for many years and know and support each other daily which is really important. This includes our current CEO who has worked for the organisation for years in different roles.
What are you most proud of so far?
I suppose I am proud of some of the outcomes and clients being safe and well. I have managed to re-connect some clients with their families back home or other organisations and assisted them with their return. I have also supported the clients with the most chaotic lives and helped them to reduce their substance misuse, offending (I often visit clients in prisons) and helped them to feel safer, more confident and good about themselves. The ability to engage these clients is a skill I've learnt throughout the years.
I often go out with outreach in my own time to support the rough sleepers in the evenings, so I know the community and their needs and can offer relevant support. This is important as so often the clients have lost their trust in any agencies and do not let anyone to get close to them. They are often addicted to class A drugs and are seen begging. They also often sex work to feed their drug habit.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this career, what would it be?
I would say never ever give up on any of your clients, and try to understand their additional needs and their help seeking behaviour. It is so often that clients have been subjected to child sexual abuse and other types of abuse and violence and never told anyone. They've then ended up in a violent relationship themselves, using the substance misuse as a coping mechanism, developing mental health issues and they are often offending to feed their drug habit (or forced into it). It is important to let our clients know that their lives matter and they will be supported no matter what their circumstances are. I am very driven, and failure is not an option.
Mirka's colleague Natasha said: 'Mirka works every day long into the evening when she doesn't have to, to support her clients. This incredible woman has made good, strong relationships with local agency partners, works alongside our drug and alcohol team, in her free time visits homeless individuals and offers support through FURTHER charity work. Mirka's support to her clients is second to none. Mirka has worked for over ten years at Dash, and has not once given up on anyone no matter how complex their needs are. She is a true inspiration to me - if I can ever be one ounce as good as her then I'd be over the moon.'
Do you know a professional who has gone above and beyond to change the response to domestic abuse and keep survivors and their families safe? Nominate someone for Star of the Month by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Star of the Month’ as the subject line.