Christmas cheer or Christmas ‘fear’? – it’s the most ‘difficult’ time of the year

Lewis and Jacquie from the Harlow Domestic Abuse Forum

HARLOW Council is raising awareness of domestic abuse and providing help to people who may be experiencing it.

With Christmas fast approaching, many of us have begun preparations for what some might say is the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ However, this does not apply to all. For victims of domestic abuse, it can be the most feared time of the year with domestic incidents significantly spiking at Christmas time.

The J9 initiative raises awareness and helps victims of domestic abuse. J9 was named in memory of Janine Mundy who was killed by her estranged husband in 2003 in front of her two young sons. Janine’s family started the initiative.

Killed by her husband – Janine Mundy

J9 is being heavily promoted by the Harlow Domestic Abuse Forum, which is run by the council.

The HDAF visited various locations in Harlow to promote the scheme – including the college – as part of Domestic Abuse Awareness Week last month.

J9, which was commissioned by Harlow Council, enables victims to go into any place that is displaying a J9 sticker, where a trained professional can put them in touch with the help and support they need. J9 also provides the use of a telephone.

According to the Office for National Statistics, one in four women in the UK experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. Two women are killed by their partners or former partners every week.

Christine Howard, Vice Chair of the Harlow Domestic Abuse Forum said, ‘It would seem that some, but not many people were already aware of J9 and the services offered by Safer Places.

‘Some people that approached the stands were survivors of domestic abuse themselves and so appreciated the work and efforts of the Safer Harlow Partnership and Harlow Domestic Abuse Forum to tackle and reduce domestic abuse in Harlow.

‘Importantly, activity throughout Domestic Abuse Awareness Week gave us the opportunity to work with partner agencies to raise awareness of domestic abuse issues and to promote support services that are available locally and nationally such as J9.’

The Safer Harlow Partnership (SHP) and Safer Places UK has provided a number of training opportunities for staff in the public and voluntary sector to raise awareness and increase knowledge and understanding of domestic abuse and promote the J9 initiative, with the hope that they are able to ‘signpost’ victims of domestic abuse.

Two training sessions took place in the Civic Centre recently, with The Essex Fire and Rescue Service having participated last month.

Lisa Mitson, Community Safety Officer, said: ‘I found the training thought provoking and believe that in practice it will go a long way to helping victims turn into survivors.’

A spokesperson for Safer Places added: ‘Since October last year we have delivered J9 training to over 1,000 professionals from various sectors including, Police, Health, Social Care and Education.

‘All of our training is developed and delivered by experts to meet the needs of staff in a range of organisations who come into contact with people affected by Domestic Abuse or to raise awareness to members of the public. Our training includes a range of courses, at various levels, from basic domestic abuse awareness to tailored training packages designed to meet the specific needs of organisations.

‘We wanted to ensure that an increased number of victims from groups under represented in our existing caseload were reached in order to deliver a more equitable service on the basis of risk and choice. To do this we extended the resources provided to the DAISY service, which is delivered in partnership with Princess Alexandra Hospital Harlow, as a result of a successful funding bid to The Big Lottery Fund and Essex Community Foundation. The service was able to provide support to 244 adult victims of domestic abuse who disclosed at the hospital.’

Local business who want to get involved in the J9 initiative to help stop domestic abuse and help victims to seek the help they need, should contact Harlow Council on 01279 446655 or visit http://www.harlow.gov.uk/j9 for more information.

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Kloe Hackett

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