Julie is a trained Young Person’s Domestic Violence Advocate and counsellor. She has worked at The Wish Centre in Blackburn for ten years, starting out in the refuge where she supported victims at point of crisis, before becoming Programmes Co-ordinator. She is also trained to deliver the victim programmes to both male and female clients, and also to children.
What made you decide to work with people experiencing domestic abuse?
I decided to work with domestic violence victims after a chaotic childhood where social care were involved with our family for many years. This resulted in a foster placement, which was a very positive experience for me - being removed from a very volatile situation to a place of safety. I wanted to support families who were in a similar situation and passionately believe a home should always be a place of safety, where there is never any justification for violence or abuse.
How has COVID-19 impacted on your ability to deliver your programmes?
COVID-19 has dramatically impacted on how we deliver programmes at the Wish Centre. Before lockdown we were holding groups of approximately 20 clients per group, five times a week, but have had to adapt to working with much smaller groups either by phone, WhatsApp group chat or Zoom, taking into account confidentiality at all times. We have to prioritise our referrals; first looking at the clients who most need to engage with us due to court proceedings, and also looking at the clients most at risk. This means that the sessions can be tailored to the needs of the clients in much smaller groups, giving them the confidence to be much more open and honest than they may have been in a large group. The contribution of the clients during the smaller sessions makes it much easier to assess their level of awareness and understanding.
What keeps you going when the work gets tough?
That’s easy, my amazing colleagues. We are a strong team who support each other and even more so during this difficult time. The team is only a phone call away. Coffee and chocolate when we’re in the office. I hold the emergency chocolate supply! We also have a strong management team who are always behind us and a board of trustees who work hard for the best for our organisation, supporting staff and making decisions that benefit clients.
What are you most proud of so far?
I am most proud of the amazing results we get when a victim gets to keep their children or have them returned to their care because we have worked with them, supported them and educated them on how to keep themselves and their children safe. There is no better job satisfaction than that. This is a recent text I received from a client:
Can I just say a huge thank you to you. I know I’ve not been the easiest to work with and many times you could have walked away but you never turned your back on me. You always welcomed me and took the time to work with me at my worst, its only right I should work with you at my best. I will never forget how much you’ve helped me and stuck your neck out for me over the years of ups and downs. You really are an amazing lady!!! Xxxxx
Julie was nominated by her colleague Alison who said:
"Julie is amazing at her job and has an incredible ability to connect with the most vulnerable and tricky to engage clients. She makes everyone feel so welcome and special - and even though she is always really really busy, she gives everyone the time and listening ear that they need.
She is always the first to arrive and last to leave the office. She knows all our clients and colleagues inside out and is the first person that people go to for advice- (including fashion advice!). We have an amazing and dedicated team and I think we'd all agree that Julie is definitely a shining star among us."
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.