Simon Gunner is an Idva at the Wirral Family Safety Unit. After working for many years in Family Support he joined the Wirral Family Safety Unit four years ago. Simon is part of a team of seven Idvas, serving a community of over 320,000 people. Simon uses his skills from previous roles to support young people, victims of so-called 'honour-based' abuse and male victims.
What made you decide to work with people experiencing domestic abuse?
Going back what feels like a lifetime ago now, I trained in childcare with the aim of working in a nursery supporting children to have the best possible start in life. I quickly recognised that improving outcomes for children went beyond what happened in a nursery, and that so many families had complex issues at home which had a dramatic impact on the children. This led me to want to support families holistically and led me into the Family Support role.
Over time I began to notice that Domestic abuse was a factor in so many of my cases and supporting victims became a big focus of my work. The more I learned and observed, the more passionate I became to support those experiencing abuse. Recognising that abuse crosses age, gender, ethnicity and status fed my passion to be there for those who need support, when they need it.
When the opportunity arose to become an Idva I embraced the challenge. Being a male Idva offers some unique insights into abuse. As well as the ability to engage with male victims by taking away some of the stereotypical views of the role of men in relationships, I also have the opportunity to demonstrate to any victim that not all men are abusers, and that abuse should never be accepted as ‘normal’.
We have come a long way but still have a long way to go, and only with the passion of those working in this field will we ever meet the challenges ahead of us.
What keeps you going when the work gets tough?
We all have tough days and that is part of the drive to keep going. I realised a long time ago that we can’t save everyone, but that shouldn’t stop us trying to support those experiencing abuse. Although I have been given the great honour of this award I am surrounded by a team of passionate colleagues who work closely and support each other through the tough times. I constantly remind myself that however tough a situation may be in work, there are those suffering abuse daily who deserve support and without those who care around them will struggle to make change happen. The greatest satisfaction for me is witnessing the journey many survivors have made and seeing that they can have a future without abuse.
What are you most proud of so far?
Every day I come across something that makes me feel proud of what I do. I could say I am proud of the service I work for, I could say I am proud of the relationships I have built with agencies but the truth is the thing that makes me most proud is seeing someone I have supported making steps toward recovery. We often have feedback from survivors who have moved forward and this fills me with pride that I have helped them on their journey.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this career, what would it be?
Probably the most important thing I would say to anyone wanting to become an Idva is to believe in your passion. We all become Idvas because we want to make a difference, we have a passion and drive. Embrace that passion, stand proud and make that step into a career that really does change lives for the better.
Simon's clients said: 'Simon was amazing. He helped change my life and turned things around for the whole family. A lovely man, he believed and understood'
‘Simon was fantastic and brilliant. It’s a ‘no mans’ land and I felt alone but Simon changed this and gave me a new life’
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.