UK Enterprise 2020

205 | UK Enterprise Awards 2020 Since 1976, Family Help has been working tirelessly and diligently to keep women and children safe from domestic abuse. As a small and independent charity, Family Help is home to Darlington’s only women’s refuge, and is one of the longest-standing refuges and domestic abuse support services in the United Kingdom. What started out in a condemned and small two-bedroom terraced house has now become one of the best and most vital support services in the North East of England. We find out how the team is able to provide its extraordinary service that saves lives. Best Domestic Abuse Support Service 2020 - North East England Almost forty-five years ago, Family Help was borne from the continued and dedicated support of a small group of local individuals. Together, having decided that there was a need for refuge accommodation in Darlington, those individuals launched a pilot project with no regular funds to run on and just a very basic terraced house with a yard. All furniture and supplies were donated by members of the community, and the group of individuals were able to set about helping families flee domestic abuse and rebuild their lives. Despite humble beginnings, the project grew into something remarkable by offering community support for those who needed it the most and soon, the charity had outgrown the terraced house and moved into an ex-Army hut on that grounds of an old workhouse. In 1985, and requiring alternative space, Family Help’s refuge moved again – this time into some old hospital rooms that were still standing on the grounds of the old workhouse. Back then, Family Help had a reputation as the refuge for “battered wives” rather than a safe haven for survivors of domestic abuse. However, as the years passed, the charity continued to help rebuild and save lives; the community started to better understand the charity’s mission and community support continued to grow. Over forty-four years of service, Family Help has seen tens of thousands of women and men champion the rights of abused women and children, not only by changing attitudes, but by changing laws, changing hearts and minds, and saving lives. It is only through the passionate and long-term commitment of all those involved with Family Help that the charity has survived some very difficult times, including lack of funding, suitable premises, and tendering for the right to continue running its own services. Refuges are safe places that include peer support, and allow individuals to share experiences and understand what they have been through. Realising for the first time that they are not alone and they are not to blame for the abuse can be a powerfully positive experience for many who stay with Family Help. The charity aims to keep women and children safe from domestic abuse by providing safe and confidential accommodation where new residents are always welcomed with a non-judgemental, caring, and compassionate attitude. Family Help also recognises the emotional, physical, and psychological needs of children. It is a sad fact that domestic abuse and violence will always be present in society. Data continuously shows higher statistics of people suffering from some form of domestic abuse. Although Family Help responds to people in crisis and deals with many crises, the charity is not a purely reactive service. Family Help offers survivors space and time to make informed life choices, and its central purpose enables people to change their own lives and move towards positive and safe outcomes. The refuge is a place where women and their children can be free from violence and domestic abuse, and where individuals can be empowered using a person-centred approach. Family Help’s person-centred approach and planning is a process that is owned and controlled by the service user. It promotes social inclusion and, through flexible plans, builds on their strengths and supports them in finding their own solutions. Support and life skills coaching enables Family Help’s clients to learn how to keep themselves safe in the future, how to remove themselves from unhealthy relationship patterns and grow in awareness. Basic living skills are encouraged through sessions on cooking, budgeting, maintaining a home or tenancy, and so on. All of Jul20285 these contribute to improving a survivor’s confidence and ability so that they can choose to live independently. Helping those who have come through domestic abuse and violence is no easy task, but the team at Family Help is always on hand to do whatever possible to make life better for these individuals. This is a fantastic charity, and one that stands as a guardian and a beacon for a better future for the women and children of Darlington and beyond. Company: Family Help Darlington CIO & Domestic Abuse Help-Line Contact: Carole Clarkson Website: www.familyhelp.org.uk

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