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Jenny Smith is the Marac Development Lead for SafeLives in Scotland and Jenn Douglas is the Engagement Lead for SafeLives in Scotland. In this blog they explain why Social Workers are vital in responding to domestic abuse, and outline some of the resources that SafeLives have produced to support their crucial work.  

Resources for Children’s Services.  

Responding effectively to Domestic Abuse (DA) requires a holistic, co-ordinated multi-agency, and whole family approach. Children and Families Social Workers play a crucial part in that response, but as our current Spotlight series has highlighted, a lack of resources, training and understanding of the dynamics of DA and Coercive and Controlling Behaviours (CCB) and how these impact victims and their children, can often be a barrier to effective intervention.  

With 64% of people accessing Idva services having children, and 40% of those families being known to Children’s Services it’s notable that only 3.2% of Marac (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) referrals and 3.4% of Idva service referrals come from Children’s Social Care. Social Workers are often in a good position to respond to the whole family, recognising that the safety of the adult victim and their children is linked to the pattern of behaviour of the perpetrator, and holding them to account.  

At the heart of multi-agency work for families affected by DA and CCB is the understanding that no single agency or individual can see the complete picture, but all have insights that are crucial to their safety. Ensuring that the victim is supported throughout, and their needs are represented at the Marac, is crucial to managing risk, improving and maintaining safety and reducing repeat victimisation. A shared understanding of risk is crucial to ensure effective collaborative working; Social Workers cannot be expected to respond to DA victims and their children alone. 

SafeLives have developed a range of resources to support effective Multi-Agency interventions for victims of DA and their children, particularly within the Marac setting, all available for free on the SafeLives website. The Marac Representatives Toolkit is a great starting point for anyone attending Marac, outlining common questions and potential actions to increase the safety of the adult victim and their children. The Safeguarding Children multi-agency guidance is potentially another valuable resource for Social Workers involved in Marac and other multi-agency forums.  

The SafeLives Community Platform was developed as a space for professionals in the DA sector to share articles, read and write blogs, and discuss ideas and issues around best practice. The Community also contains webinars and e-learning packages for Marac, and is a great space for Social Workers to connect with the rest of the DA sector, both on a local and national level, to enhance multi agency responses to DA.  

Effective responses to DA and CCB will inevitably involve a collaborative, multi-agency approach to the whole family. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something, and in order to do that we need to ensure all partners in our multi-agency forums are suitably supported and up-skilled in the issues facing victims of DA and their children.  

For help with identifying specific resources please contact the Knowledge Hub on knowledgehub@safelives.org.uk  

Visit our Spotlight page for more blogs, podcasts, guidance and survivor stories over the coming weeks