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Ruth Davies is the Communications Officer at SafeLives. In this series she'll interview a different team member every month – over a nice cup of tea.

Deidre Cartwright is an Advisor in the SafeLives Knowledge Hub.

Ruth: Hi Deidre. Could you start by telling me a bit about your background?

Deidre: So my background is working as a frontline domestic abuse practitioner. I started out quite a while ago working on the National Domestic Violence Helpline as a volunteer, and then I went into working as a domestic abuse caseworker in Barking and Dagenham. Then I became an Idva, and spent a number of years working as an Idva in different contexts – so in court, in hospital, places like that. After that I became an Idva manager, and then I came to work at SafeLives which kind of brought together all my frontline experience.

And what are you working on at the moment? 

The main thing I’ve been working on is Spotlights, and we’re just in the middle of our Spotlight on young people, which has been really great. I’ve had opportunities to go out and meet young people, their parents, the practitioners who are working with them, finding out what they’re doing and what they think needs to be done, helping to get their voices out there. And then we’re going to start working on the next Spotlight soon, on another ‘hidden’ group’s experiences.

And what are you most excited about in terms of what’s coming up?

Well I’m excited about the Spotlights and everything we’re learning from them, but I’m also excited about the things we’re doing around health, and how we’re going to move forward from the Cry for Health report to get more Idvas in hospitals. That’s my background – working as a hospital based Idva – and I’m really passionate about it, I think it really reaches a group of victims that aren’t otherwise getting support so I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Finally, are there any moments in your time with SafeLives so far that really stand out to you as a highlight?

The Cry for Health launch was really great because it was lots of people coming together who were all on the same page, and all wanted to do something about this issue. It was watching the launch, but also watching people talking afterwards about how they were going to come together to try and create change… I’ve always been a frontline worker on the ground, trying to make things happen but without having the influence, so it was really great to see that strategic stuff happening.

The other highlights for me have been talking to survivors. Meeting the Deaf survivors I spoke to last year, hearing their stories and their perspective was really enlightening for me. And then talking to young people for this Spotlight, going into their homes and having conversations with them was really quite powerful. It also gave me a new perspective; not being their Idva allowed me to take more of an observer role rather than intervention. So I think working with survivors has been a real highlight for me.