South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner’s Victims Fund Engagement Day; 16th of June, 2016

On 16th June, at the Heronston Hotel in Bridgend, thirteen organisations from across the South Wales Police area came together as part of the Victims Fund Engagement Day to present their application to the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner’s Victim’s Fund Panel. The organisations presented projects aimed at supporting both direct and indirect victims of crime and answered further questions about their work from the audience. The audience was made up of invited members of the public, all thirteen shortlisted organisations, staff from the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner’s office and staff from the Community Foundation in Wales. The event was opened by the community Foundation’s Chief Executive, Liza Kellett, with Alun Michael, South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner closing the event.

The Victims Fund, launched in March, considered applications from voluntary and third sector organisations for funding towards specialist victim services. The primary aim was to support new or existing projects which worked with individuals and their families who have directly or indirectly affected by crime. The emphasis of the criteria was on innovative ideas, able to complement existing services for victims. Applicants applied for grants up to £20,000 to deliver their project.

The event was also an opportunity to share experiences, stories and expertise, a chance to network, to create stronger connections with fellow organisations, and explore issues and solutions beyond their usual remit. ‎Wendy Evans, Lead for Victim Services at the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, encouraged this information sharing, and encouraged the audience to engage by asking questions of presenters, to engender greater understanding of projects and reflection on ways to improve and grow for the future.

Empowerment and the sharing of experiences for positive, practical change was a recurring theme of the event. Lucy Holmes, speaker of the Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid, explained how ‘Material Girls’, the organisation’s social enterprise, enabled domestic abuse victims ‘to flourish’, through ‘breaking the cycle’ of violence, gaining skills and making friends. Similarly, Valley & Vale Community Arts aimed to make the ‘victim into the director’, taking control of their own stories through the creative process.

Furthermore, the voice and needs of the victims remained at the heart of the prospective projects, the ‘collective voice’ (Welsh Women’s Aid) of victims, were central to the discussions, responding and shaping action to their needs. Ynys Saff’s presentation emphasised this point, describing their primary goal to help victims ‘build on their own resilience, knowledge and experience to recover’, acknowledging the crucial role of informed, collaborative decision making. A survivor and mentor for Safer Merthyr Tydfil described how her ‘ultimate reward is to see my mentees smile’.

The event was a resounding success and an impactful opportunity for engagement, for knowledge sharing and for simply listening to the experience and expertise of others, putting the voice and the recovery of victims to the centre stage.

The following projects were successful with funding:

Port Talbot and Afan Women’s Aid
‘Material Girls’ is a textile recycling programme which provides voluntary experience, develops aspirations and produce a creative setting for women who have suffered domestic abuse to build friendships.

Cardiff Women’s Aid
Through group sessions, one-to-one meetings and the development of online and phone text-based support resources, the project aims to assist medium-risk Public Protection Notice referrals from Victim Support through recovery interventions.

Valley and Vale Community Arts
‘Creativity for Recovery’ will present workshops and group projects for young people and adults affected by crime, aimed at exploring the needs and concerns of the individuals themselves in a collaborative process. Run by trained facilitators, the scheme will use a creative, activity-based approach to consider themes raised in an open, expressive setting.

Women’s Aid Rhondda Cynnon Taff
By establishing drop-in and signposting services, the project would aim to highlight awareness of abusive behaviour, recognition of early warning signs of abuse, and create supportive social networks amongst those persons who are likely to be at higher risk to break the cycle of violence.

Welsh Women’s Aid
The ‘Survivors Participation Project’ will undertake peer mentoring for survivors of abuse in Cardiff, through group sessions and training to inform and empower women, with their experiences at the heart of the course. The project will reconnect woman to their local communities, encouraging participation in the community to challenge and improve responses to domestic abuse.

Community Music Wales
The Theatr Fforwm workshops, in partnership with Welsh Women’s Aid ‘Children Matter’ programme, will encourage and engage children who have been subject to violence or crime to explore issues of domestic abuse and express themselves in a positive, open environment in Cardiff. This will raise self-confidence and assist them in discussing issues and create understanding with friends and families.

Unity Group Wales
Expanding and conserving support for LGBT hate crime victims for Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot is the primary interest of the project. Part-time support workers will host comprehensive well-being sessions to enable victims to cope with the emotional effects of hate crime and provide individual and familial support. Additionally, the project will allow for increased educational and school visits run by the Group in order to raise awareness and break down barriers.

Ynys Saff Sexual Assault Referral Centre; Cardiff and Vale
The Sexual Violence Recovery Toolkit is a written guide for individuals who have experienced sexual abuse and exploitation. The twelve week programme in Cardiff will provide information for participants to develop positive lifestyle-coping strategies in order to avoid relapse and contribute to their own health and well-being on a long-term basis.

Safer Wales Ltd
The ‘Dyn Project’ is aimed at increasing awareness of appropriate agencies for gay, bisexual, heterosexual and transgender men who have experienced domestic abuse, and a commitment to develop the service beyond Cardiff and into South Wales. Through support from Independent Domestic Violence Advocates, who advise on housing needs and legal guidance, and close links to relevant victim support services, the project will act as a first point of contact for those in need, and increase their safety and wellbeing.

Safer Merthyr Tydfil
Establishing long-term relationships between Volunteer Mentors and service users, the project encourages domestic abuse sufferers through one-to-one sessions and peer mentoring to build confidence, reduce isolation and promote safe and healthy wellbeing plans.This will provide victims with a dedicated and helpful support unit.

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