12th June 2015
Up and down the country, Idva services work tirelessly to make sure victims of domestic abuse can be safe. The work they do is complex and varied – so we asked one of our Leading Lights services to give us a flavour of what goes on. Here, Zoe Jackson from Aurora New Dawn in Hampshire talks us through a week in the life of her service.
Monday is a particularly busy day for our Idva service, spent catching up with referrals from the weekend and getting up to date with developments on our existing cases. After a quick catch-up, someone makes the first round of tea and it’s straight down to business.
An Idva’s diary is constantly changing. We prioritise our work based on risk, so diaries often have to be re-organised in the event of an emergency. For one Idva this is exactly what happens this morning. A police officer has left a message to say the perpetrator in one of our cases was arrested overnight. The client doesn’t want to make a statement and although the police have managed to hold her partner until this morning, he will be released imminently. The Idva contacts the client straight away – she wants to leave, has packed her things and is ready to go. The Idva calls some local refuges but they don’t have space, so arranges to meet the client in 30 minutes at the local housing department. The rest of the team continue through their emails and new referrals. At lunchtime the Idva who went to support their client at the housing department checks in – accommodation has been found and the client is on their way there.
As she arrives back, another Idva leaves for a pre-arranged visit. She meets a woman at her workplace: she has recently been granted a non-molestation order and her employers are supporting her well. Before, the perpetrator had turned up at the workplace and we had incorporated work-based safety procedures into the client’s individual safety and support plan. At the client’s request, the Idva has arranged to meet with both her and her manager to offer guidance on safety in the workplace.
This morning one of our Idvas attends a multi-agency public protection meeting for a perpetrator who is known to the service. In the past we have worked with some of his victims whose cases are now closed, but we attend the meeting to provide domestic violence expertise and ensure that we know about any developments. At today’s meeting it becomes apparent that the individual is in a new relationship, so the meeting agrees plans to make sure the new partner is safe.
Back in the office, another member of the team receives a call from a current client. We haven’t been able to get hold of her over the last couple of weeks. She discloses that further incidents have taken place which she hasn’t reported to the police. The Idva takes her through a review of her risk assessment (which always happens after further incidents) and explains that the case will be re-referred to Marac. The Idva works with the client to update her individual safety and support plan and arranges to visit her at a safe location later in the week, when the perpetrator is at work.
It’s Marac day: a key part of any Idva’s role. There are Maracs running in two locations today. Our service covers both, so two of our Idvas are out of the office.
On Marac days the rest of the team covers the phones – teamwork is a crucial part of any Idva service. They update the database with any client contact and email the absent members of the team to keep them up to date. By 3.30pm both Idvas are back. I have a quick chat with one of them about a particularly complex Marac case. We run through possible actions and record the discussion and actions on the client’s file.
One of the Idvas this morning gets a particularly high-risk, possible honour-based violence referral. They flag it with management, and the Idva and I review the referral paperwork together. One of the other Idvas who has particular expertise around honour-based violence joins the discussion and we think about what we need to explore with the client so that we understand the risks she faces. Her first language is not English so the allocated Idva finds a telephone interpreter and heads upstairs to call her.
Meanwhile, the other Idvas are updating clients about yesterday’s Marac meeting, ensuring they feel part of the process. In the afternoon we have the first of this month’s case reviews: I sit with one member of the team to talk through her cases and agree actions for the next four weeks. The Idva handling the honour-based violence case from this morning is now busy uploading their paperwork to the database, having been on the phone to the client and various other professionals throughout the day.
This morning it’s the monthly Aurora team meeting: a chance for everybody to catch up and update the rest of the team on developments. There’s a slot for recent ‘good news’ stories: one of the Idvas shares a positive experience where they worked with a local police officer to obtain a particularly robust restraining order for a client. The Idva was impressed by the officer and we agree that we’ll write to their superior to highlight their efforts.
We are a team member down at the meeting – one Idva is at court with a client who is representing themselves at a return hearing for a non-molestation order. They call in at 11am to say the court has granted the order.
After the meeting, there is an update on yesterday’s honour-based violence case – the client has been placed in a hotel temporarily. The Idva plans a joint visit with social care for next week and will call the client again later.
The team continue to work through their caseloads, calling any remaining clients before the weekend so that they have access to all the safety planning and support information they need. We are fortunate to have a volunteer-run helpline available from Friday evening to Monday morning, so the last thing the team do before leaving the office is to divert the phone to the helpline.