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Tackling Inequality Together - Ensuring all communities who experience domestic abuse feel confident in accessing our services

Tackling Inequality Together - Ensuring all communities who experience domestic abuse feel confident in accessing our services

17 January 2022
Equality cut out paper chain people

As part of our Equality Plan 2021-25, we set out a number of important objectives that we want to achieve in the coming years. Across the council, work is underway to bring our action plan to life, and we want to share some of the positive changes that are already taking place.

One of our objectives is to ensure our staff have the right tools to understand how best to tackle inequality and meet the needs of our increasingly diverse community. Below, we highlight some of the great work being carried out across our domestic abuse service, to help our staff and partners ensure the service is accessible to all.


The data behind the work

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provided an opportunity to look closely at the data collected by services working with those experiencing domestic abuse; and how many of those who share protected characteristics, or have complex needs, were accessing help and support.

What was found, both from data collected by specialist domestic abuse services and our homelessness team was that there were very few male, Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Trans plus (LGBT+), older people and those with a disability, accessing help, when compared to demographics of our area. These groups were also under-represented when analysing data from multi-agency meetings, which focus on those at highest risk of serious harm.

We want to see these groups reflected in our statistics as per national and regional trends, and ensure everyone who needs support, is able to access this.


A comprehensive training programme

To combat this, the team have been working on a comprehensive training programme for colleagues and partners; helping them to understand more about the issues that impact people with protected characteristics who experience domestic abuse; and how they can use this to improve accessibility of services, responses and support.

Initially, the team identified key groups for the training to focus on based on the characteristics which were under-represented in the data. This included the Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) community, LGBT+ people, older people, people with learning disabilities and/or autism, those with sensory needs, men, and black and minoritised communities.

The training programme has been developed for March 2021 until July 2022, with many successful sessions already taking place to cover the above groups. The team will then evaluate feedback, expanding on key areas, such as different types of disabilities, to create the programme from September 2022; ensuring the work is ongoing.


“I am now working with a transgender young person and felt the training is something that is not only relevant to my role, but something I needed a refresher on, to be able to support them.” – Feedback from an attendee of the LGBT+ training session 

Working in partnership

None of this work would have been achievable without the assistance of local and national partners who specialise in supporting community members with protected characteristics. For example, we have:

  • Worked with SupportU, a specialist LGBT+ organisation that supports Wokingham Borough residents, to deliver training that covered pronouns, terminology, stages of coming out, understanding why people don’t come out, and more
  • Worked with H.O.P.E (Helping Other People Everyday), Training and Consultancy, who have vast experience of working with members of minoritised communities, to deliver training on ‘Gaining a better understanding and awareness of domestic abuse within black and minoritised communities’
  • Worked with the US Too team, a group of women with learning disabilities, autism or both, all of whom have experience of domestic abuse, supported by experienced ARC England staff, to improve the support we offer to those who are experiencing domestic abuse and have learning disabilities and/or autism
  • Worked with The Dewis Choice Initiative, a research project by the Centre for Age, Gender and Social Justice, based in Aberystwyth University, to deliver training on supporting older victims of domestic abuse, including those living with dementia and care and support needs, and recognising the hidden signs of domestic abuse in later life, as well as additional risks
  • Worked with the Traveller Movement, accessing their ‘Never going to Beat You’ film, followed by a training and question and answer session with members of the community

The team seek feedback following all courses and monitor progress by looking at number of sessions, number of people attending, immediate feedback (within a few days) and three-month post-session feedback.

“Support U is keen to show allies why LGBT+ people hide and why we find it difficult to reach out to generic services. We allow the safe space for people to discuss LGBT+ issues without judgement. We have delivered this form of training to a few local authorities like Wokingham Borough Council, and it is a clear, straightforward and accessible way to promote equality in the organisation. We have had very good feedback on the delivery.” Lorna McArdle, CEO of SupportU


Supporting residents to feel confident in accessing our services

Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that all of the residents in our area who are affected by domestic abuse, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, disability or other protected characteristics feel confident in accessing help and support; as well as knowing that the services will be aware of many of their concerns and needs and can provide tailored support to each individual needs. 


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