Agenda item

Agenda item

Safe and Together: Responding to and Managing Domestic Abuse in Manchester

Report and presentation of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services


This report and presentation provide an overview of the Safe and Together Model and its implementation in Manchester.


The Committee received a report and presentation of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which provided an overview of the Safe and Together Model and its implementation in Manchester.


The main points and themes within the presentation included:


·         Introduction and summary of the journey so far;

·         Domestic Abuse Strategy;

·         The impact of practice and the survivor story;

·         Taking a partnership approach: the right support at the right time; and

·         Next steps.


Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:


  • Praise for the Safe and Together model, including the shift in language and the strengths-based approach;
  • Work to address the behaviour of perpetrators;
  • Service provision for children and young people to manage their trauma;
  • The importance of public education programmes to break the cycle of abuse, including educating young people and using billboards and libraries to raise awareness;
  • The impact on families of having to flee to escape domestic abuse while, in many cases, the perpetrator remained in the family home;
  • Recognising that domestic abuse was not only about violence but other forms of abuse, such as emotional and financial abuse;
  • Whether data was available broken down by ethnicity of families that were being supported;
  • That some family relationships could be more complicated than one party being the perpetrator and that it was not helpful to children in the family where one parent was being labelled as the abuser but this did not reflect their lived experience; and
  • Peer-on-peer abuse involving children who had experienced domestic abuse in the family and how this could be addressed in partnership with schools.


The Domestic Abuse Reduction Manager advised that work with perpetrators had been expanded from working with only male perpetrators to working with any perpetrator including those from the LGBT community and those who had English as an Additional Language and work relating to child to parent violence.  She advised that the offer of therapeutic counselling for children affected by domestic abuse had been expanded to support over 150 children a year, compared to 50 previously.  She informed Members that the new Domestic Abuse Act had introduced a responsibility for local authorities to provide support to all child and adult victims of domestic abuse and that Manchester Women’s Aid had been commissioned to provide support to families in dispersed accommodation, which aimed to reach over 300 children.  She also informed the Committee about Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, which removed the perpetrator from the family home and gave victims of domestic abuse time and space to think about what they wanted to do, and advised that she was in contact with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) about how the number of Domestic Abuse Protection Orders could be increased.  She also highlighted work to manage risks where families decided to stay together, for example, work with Early Help on promoting positive relationships and the Healing Together programme.


In response to a Member’s questions, the Service Lead advised that, although this model took a new approach, the focus was still on keeping children safe and she outlined how risk was managed, commenting that the work with schools had helped with this as they knew the children well and could detect changes in behaviour.  She highlighted that Youth Justice was using the Safe and Together model to work with child survivors of domestic abuse and help them to understand their childhood experiences.  In response to a question about adapting the model to work with diverse communities in Manchester, she advised that interpreters had played a valuable role in working with some families and that other services were utilised to improve practitioners’ understanding of diverse cultures but she acknowledged that this was still an area for further development.  In response to Members’ questions, she outlined how a range of services and the Voluntary and Community Sector would be trained in and involved in the work to address domestic abuse.  A Member advised that housing providers should be included in this work, to which the Domestic Abuse Reduction Manager responded that housing providers were involved in this work and that a programme of training was being provided to these organisations.  The Strategic Director of Children and Education Services advised that the Safe and Together training had first targeted key areas, such as social workers who would be undertaking direct interventions, but was then being expanded out to other service areas and organisations.  In response to a Member’s question, he advised that training on this could be incorporated into the training delivered to Members.  In response to a Member’s question about how children could report their concerns about domestic abuse at home, he advised that all schools had a Designated Safeguarding Teacher and that a high number of referrals came though schools, which indicated that children felt safe and able to speak to teachers about their concerns.


The Domestic Abuse Reduction Manager reported that it was recognised that more work needed to be done with children and young people on promoting healthy relationships and that a public health approach was needed to tackle domestic abuse.  She outlined the work taking place including a group being set up to look at how to raise awareness about domestic abuse and work with schools and the Council’s Schools Quality Assurance Team.  In response to a Member’s question about whether there were any plans to involve football clubs in this work, she advised that work was taking place with CityCo, local businesses and sporting organisations, looking at what they could do to support the work to tackle perpetrators’ behaviour. 


In response to a question from the Chair, the Domestic Abuse Reduction Manager advised that her team was working closely with GMP regarding their response to domestic abuse and that GMP was currently reviewing its Domestic Abuse Policy.  In response to the question about demographic data, she advised that this could be provided as a lot of data had been gathered as part of a needs assessment carried out during the development of the new Strategy.  She advised that the organisation Talk Listen Change had recently been commissioned to provide interventions on peer on peer abuse and healthy relationships, working closely with schools. 




To note the report and the importance of raising awareness about domestic abuse and relevant support services across different groups of staff, such as housing staff and different service areas within the Council.


[Councillor Abdullatif declared a personal and non-prejudicial interest as she had previously worked for Women’s Aid Federation England and continued to do some ad hoc work within the sector as well as being a trustee of Ending Violence Against Women.]

[Ms Smith declared a personal and non-prejudicial interest as a volunteer with the Pankhurst Trust Manchester Women’s Aid.]

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