In November we held our Annual General Meeting and it was a proud and emotional moment for us at Impact Family Services. 

Our CEO Catherine Marchant gave a great speech that highlighted the work that we did in the last financial year:

Earlier this year we surveyed service users and asked them how we had changed their lives.

Of 74 responses received:

  • 100% agreed/ strongly agreed that they felt supported at the point of crisis and are now better able to cope with their experiences with reduced feelings of shame / guilt. They are stronger and more confident with more people to turn to for support.

  • In addition, 98% felt more optimistic and able to set boundaries and move forward positively with their lives.
  • 96% had improved mental health and wellbeing and/or felt more equipped to leave the perpetrator / identify unhealthy relationships. 

Survivors report significant positive changes since accessing support, as you will see from the quotes shown.

We also asked services users for their views on DA services:

  • 99% agreed services should be informed and shaped by people with lived experience of abuse 
  • 100% said they should offer a range of practical and emotional support for clients
  • 100% said they should work with survivors of abuse for as long as support is needed

When we asked about any further support that would be helpful to victims of domestic violence at the point of crisis, to help them to leave the perpetrator of abuse or to move forward from their experiences, more awareness, more group work, more counselling, and more accommodation were the most common responses.

Our work with children and young people is equally impressive and you will hear some stats and feedback about that a little later, but you can see from all these results that what we do, works.

The Perfect Storm

Catherine recently listened to a peer discussing DA and, in her words, “we are in the perfect storm”

We have the Cost-of-Living crisis, which in some way is affecting most people in this country.

We have a Mental ill Health pandemic and a general ill health crisis, with services unable to meet demand.

We have a growing issue with Misogyny, which is endemic in many of our schools. We see the mainstreaming of misogyny via TV, films, music and our children and young people can access this 24/7.

We now have the World Cup and we are all aware of the link between a good and bad football result and the levels of DA. And then we have Christmas fast approaching, which again, is a time when the stresses and pressures at home, along with the over-indulgence of festive celebrations results in a spike of DA cases.

We are also now becoming more aware of the levels of domestic abuse in older people. 

Listening to the findings from Dr Hannah Bows of Durham University, regarding the unhelpfully termed “Elder Abuse”, it appears that the evidence about the levels of domestic abuse in this country have been flawed for a long time. Until 2017, the domestic abuse questions within the crime survey for England and Wales were based on people aged 59 and below. In 2017 this was eventually lifted to age 74 and under, and now the age cap has been removed entirely, though it will be a few years before there is enough of this uncapped data to research effectively.

Domestic Abuse Statistics 2022

What the data has shown so far is that 1 in 3 women will experience domestic abuse, and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse.

1 in 6, that is 15% of adults aged 60 and over, who are living in the community not in residential care or similar, experience domestic abuse and in most of these cases it is domestic violence.

To compare, this means that 1.9 million people aged 59 and under experience domestic abuse, while 2 million people aged 60 and over experience domestic abuse. So we have a higher level of abuse in a smaller proportion (18%) of the population.

This is a time when we all need to talk about what is happening on our communities and letting people know it is not acceptable. We need to educate people on what abuse is, how to recognise it, and where to go for help.

There needs to be choice of support for victims.  There is no one size fits all here – but we also need a seamless and streamlined pathway of support, so that no one is forgotten and no one falls through the gaps. Organisations, public, private or charitable need to work together, learn from each other and share best practise. No one organisation can provide the longer-term, high quality support each victim needs. Between every organisation in this borough working for, with and in the field of domestic abuse, South Tyneside has a wealth of experts, experience, knowledge, and impact. Again, it is not the domain of a single entity. We all need to work harder, together, and I am thrilled that we are talking and working with Corinne and the team at WHiST, for example, to see how between us we can offer an enhanced package of longer-term support for women.

As well as the much-needed support for victims, we need to work harder on prevention. We can only say we have solved this societal issue of domestic abuse when we have stopped it from happening in the first place. This is why we are delighted that at Impact we are piloting a group-focused perpetrator programme in South Tyneside, one of only 3 perpetrator partners in the borough – the others being South Tyneside Council and Barnardos.

The impact of Impact Family Services

As for the future, we are ambitious. We are focused on doing more of what we do and doing it better. We are innovating in what we do and how we do it; staff are continually developing their knowledge and skills; we are learning from our service users and putting their voice at the heart of everything we do; we will work on prevention as well as support for victims; we will continue to recognise that domestic abuse can happen to and impact anyone, no matter what their gender, race, religion or age; we will continue to build partnerships with the common goal to end domestic abuse and to support victims and their families.

In the last financial year:

  • We supported 331 clients who have or are experiencing domestic abuse.
  • We supported 882 parents to engage in our SPIP Programme.
  • Our child contact service provided 192 contact sessions. If you want to learn more about our Child Contact services then please click here 
  • 57 children completed our Safe Hands programme.

We look forward to continuing to work with South Tyneside Council, Northumbria Police and Crime Commission, WHiST, WiNN and other key partners on providing the best possible Domestic Abuse services. 

We are also incredibly grateful to our grant funders, including Lloyds Bank Foundation, the Barbour Foundation, Garfield Weston, Community Foundation NT&W, Joicey Trust, Tesco and the Vardy Foundation.