An innovative project linking Cleveland’s ethnically diverse communities with local domestic abuse agencies has helped safeguard more than 235 vulnerable adults and children.
Bridging the Gap was a partnership between Cleveland Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and Catalyst Stockton.
The aim was to bridge the gap between ethnic minority communities and mainstream domestic abuse services, in which minority communities are typically under-represented.
A total of £30,000 was invested in seven grass-roots organisations, who used trusted relationships with diverse groups to raise awareness of domestic abuse and support services.
As a result of sessions run by those groups at least 200 disclosures of abuse were made.
In addition, 35 formal referrals were made to domestic abuse services. Other people were signposted to appropriate support.
A further 19 people were supported with referrals to specialist mental health services In addition, three child safeguarding referrals were made.
Barriers to accessing support within identified communities included language and communication, the stigma and shame of disclosing abuse and limited access to services.
Minority groups also felt they were under-represented in mainstream services and thought the services were “not for them”.
Many were also afraid of speaking out to “authority” figures due to experiences in their home countries. Their perceptions of safeguarding services in the UK also coloured their judgement.
Cleveland PCC Steve Turner said: “This pilot was an experiment to explore how we could ensure people from ethnically diverse communities were better supported through our domestic abuse services.
“It makes total sense that we utilise the fantastic grass-roots organisations who already have strong relationships with Cleveland’s diverse communities.
“The results speak for themselves – and with support from Catalyst, we’ve shown the benefit of reaching under-represented communities through the networks they already use.
PCC Steve Turner
“We’re excited to consider how we can use the Bridging the Gap approach to reach other diverse groups, to make sure domestic abuse is identified and support provided for everyone.”
The pilot gave people commissioning domestic abuse service a greater insight into the needs of ethnically diverse groups.
It also showed them the value – and challenges – of working with trusted partners within minority groups.
The report highlighted further opportunities to understand the experiences of children, young people and recent migrants to the UK more fully in the future.
Jon Carling, Chief Executive of Catalyst, said “We were pleased to be asked to coordinate this programme.
“The extensive network of community groups in Cleveland gave access to people, who are sometimes referred to as hard to reach.
“The number of people safeguarded speaks for itself and shows the huge difference working in partnership can make to people’s lives”.Download Bridging the Gap Final Report