Susan Ellingham interviews Chloe Grove Safeguarding Adviser for Splitz
Please explain your professional background leading to Splitz
I completed a degree in psychology. I knew I wanted to help people. particularly victims and people with mental health issues. At university I did many placements, one of which was with Headway Brain Injury charity. I also worked for a community project which supported primarily homeless people. I supported mainly 16 to 25-year olds. I explored the reasons why they were homeless, which included drug, alcohol and domestic abuse issues.
In September 2016, when I left university as I still wished to help people, I applied to Splitz to work on their Help Desk. I worked full-time on the Help Desk until June 2017. More recently, I have been working as a Safeguarding Adviser for Splitz.
What service does the Help Desk offer
The Help Desk has a help line, providing help and guidance to people disclosing domestic abuse. It supports medium risk victims of abuse and provides one off support and advice to help line clients. It also supports high risk victims until they are allocated
- an IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) if they are at high risk to support them face to face. A client opened to MARAC waiting for an IDVA is usually allocated to an IDVA within 48 hours. Splitz has about 12 IDVAs.
The help line is open Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. The line has an answer phone service.
The Help Desk receives calls from professionals and clients. We signpost and support clients, process police referrals and follow them up, respond to MASH enquiries and search databases back to 2005, respond to victim care referrals and call them and make initial contact.
Police referrals are high after Christmas, particularly Christmas Day. The police have told me that it is the busiest time of the year.
I can remember the line being placed on divert for an hour to enable us to attend a meeting and in that time, we received 18 voicemails.
When the line is closed there is a 24 hour national help line (0808 2000247).
So what role did you take on in June 2017?
I started a new role as the Safeguarding Adviser within the Children and Young Persons Team. This entails supporting 5-18-year olds who have witnessed domestic violence and have been victims of domestic violence and abuse. I support teenagers who have been in or are in abusive relationships themselves.
I only work on a one to one basis with children aged 8 years and above providing it is appropriate. The children receive between 6 to 8 sessions. I tend to train SENCO/Safe Guarding leads/teaching assistants and teachers, giving them the skills to support the child and their parent (non-abusive parent). This is because these professionals will be able to provide longer term support to the children. One to one support also takes place with the child as a last resort to prepare them for the work the teacher/parent support will provide. Part of my role involves considering the long-term care plan for the child.
Due to the age, I do not offer support below 5 years. Such support will be offered by early years practitioners.
Ages 5 to 8 years receive support from the teaching assistant and parent. They are the ones to do the day to day support and I therefore provide them with guidance and training around this.
For 8 to 16-year olds, I provide one to one support with the child where needed.
What is your typical day like?
I work full time. My days are varied with a variety of different types of appointments.
If a client is going through the court process, then the court IDVA will assist them in court. I liaise with the court IDVAs who work for NDADA and SAFE if I was initially supporting this client.
I sometimes attend primary schools and work with a teaching assistant and SENCO to discuss a specific child and provide a tool kit and offer guidance.
I might meet with a teenage boy who has witnessed and experienced high risk domestic violence throughout his life. I allow him a safe space to talk and offload. I will give him a lot of resources on how to manage his anger (as he will have experienced and witnessed his abusive parent displaying their anger by using violence) and I will give him new techniques in how to manage anger and to appreciate and realise that it is inappropriate to display anger in a way in which his abusive parent did.
I could be visiting a teenage girl who has been in an abusive relationship (of the same age). Again, I will offer her a safe place to talk and offload. We will look at her safety and the red flags and identify people who can be abusive, talk about self esteem and discuss domestic abuse and the cycle of abuse and power and control wheel.
I might attend child in need meetings, team around the family meetings, child protection meetings, core group meetings or early help meetings.
I keep records of the meetings I have attended, and I also have to prepare and plan for the next meeting, particularly if I am about to undertake artwork with them. I need to make sure I have all the necessary resources with me i.e. the Bill of Rights, the cycle of abuse, power and control wheel, safety plans and artwork. I keep a big bag with me and a laptop, dolls, cards, glitter, like a modern-day Mary Poppins.
I am also facilitating a pattern changing course which is running every Monday morning in Tavistock. This is a 12-week course; it is the first course I have overseen. Pattern changing courses only occur when we are given funds to facilitate the course. It’s part of a limit funded project which is running for a year, so we have been able to run this particular course. Unfortunately, the programme can only run when the budgets are available.
I am also to be involved in Operation Encompass which is a police initiative. This is where the police will call the school of the child who has witnessed/ involved in a domestic violence incident the day or night before. It is due to go live at the end of November 2017. I will be giving a presentation to 300 professionals about how Splitz can support the schools through this process. 406 schools are buying into our toolkits. We can also see that child. We don’t know how many referrals this scheme will mean at this time. However, I am also involved in presenting and expanding our toolkits.
What toolkits do you use?
There are two toolkits that I use which we supply to the teachers when we are not going to do the one to one. There is a toolkit for 4 to 11-year olds with activities contained within it which covers safety planning, confidence, identity, positive relationships. I give training on how to use the toolkit and going forward, I will check with the school every two weeks to see how its going and whether I need to attend the school again.
The second tool kit is for 14 to 16-year olds. Again, it is for teachers, but I will also use the toolkit too. The toolkit looks at respect, safety, and positive relationships.
I am also in the process of developing two other toolkits:
- Regarding child contact:
Child arrangements where there has been domestic abuse is a major problem we are finding in our team and I am aware of other professionals finding this a problem too. This toolkit aims to look at how children and parents can have safe contact. How a parent can speak about contact and domestic abuse to the child; what things the parents can do if anxious around contact. It provides steps, hints and tips to assist together with a draft agreement and an email template. The court IDVAs have written legal terminology and what to do when none of the things in the toolkit works. It also contains family bonding activities. The toolkit is to be aimed at parents experiencing problems and to be used alongside our clients prior to being referred to solicitors. This toolkit is likely to be released in December 2017.
- Toolkit for Year 7 pupils:
We are also in the early stages if developing a toolkit for year 7 pupils. It’s a transition kit regarding healthy relationships for any child who needs extra support. It is aimed not just to be given to victims of domestic abuse but to all children. It’s about recognising emotions, safety online/out and about, and in the home. We are hoping to aim the toolkit to the 10 and 11 -year olds as they will be new year 7’s to be delivered by the years 10 and 11s to provide peer support.
Year 7 is the first year of secondary school. We were asked by a local college to design the toolkit after they had seen our other toolkits and they felt it would be of assistance to them.
Also with a colleague, we have developed a ‘young person’s healthy relationships programme’ which we will start to deliver in January 2018. This is a 4-week course aimed at teenage girls in abusive relationships or who are making risky decisions.
What is the cycle of abuse
The cycle of abuse looks at why people remain in abusive relationships. There is initially a honeymoon period, then tension rising stage, then an abusive episode then back to the honeymoon period, and then it will keep continuing.
What is the power and control wheel?
The power and control wheel looks at how abusers gain control over their victims.
(Insert power and control graphic)
What professional training are you aiming for yourself?
Alongside all the projects, I am to receive training on children who display sexually harmful behaviour.
I have a level 3 safeguarding qualification and soon will be undertaking level 6 safeguarding and foundation training regarding young people’s misuse of drugs and alcohol. Splitz has funded the training for these courses.
I receive regular supervision as and when required.
Chloe Grove | Safeguarding Adviser
Devon Domestic Abuse Support Service
Splitz Support Service
1st Floor. Buckland House. Pavilion 3. Park 5 Business Centre. Harrier Way. Exeter. EX2 7HU.
Charity number: 1064764
Help line and new referrals: 0345 155 1074 (Monday – Friday 9:00am-5:00pm)