Susan Ellingham interviews Becky Newton Intake and Assessment Team Leader for SAFE for a behind the scenes look at Becky’s role in SAFE
Hi, I’m Becky Newton, Intake and Assessment Team Leader at SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone).
I joined SAFE in July 2017 to set up the role of the Intake and Assessment Team Leader. I am employed full time Monday to Friday currently 8 to 5. My role is to ensure that we provide a timely first response to client enquiries and referrals.
I have been working in the support sector for about 10 years; I initially worked for St Petrocks as a support worker and whilst with them, I had the opportunity to be seconded to the Turnaround Team assisting probation, police and drug workers working with prolific offenders. I provided housing advice and support to prisoners nearing their release and once they had returned to the community. I assisted them to find housing and then maintain that housing.
My role as the Intake and Assessment Team Leader is varied. I am responsible for helping co-ordinate our team of volunteers as well as dealing with all referrals made from different agencies like Splitz, family support workers, schools, self-referrals, court IDVA (Heavitree), police or an initial call from people in crisis. I assess whether they are suitable for the projects that we are running and if not, I refer them to other resources.
We are currently running the following projects:
- Counselling service
- Phone support service called “Finding Your Voice” which offers both emotional and practical support
- Pattern changing course, a 14-week group programme for victims of domestic violence to work in a group, helping them rebuild their lives and live free from violence in the future, learning how to manage it, and how to rebuild their self-esteem.
- Children and family work. This includes one to one support and the DART programme which is run in schools with the parent and child (for adult survivors of domestic abuse to understand what the child might have experienced and to help the recovery process).
Our pattern changing course is held, depending on funding, approximately three times a year; January, May and September. There are 12 people on each course. We receive approximately two referrals a day for the pattern changing course, and there is a minimum of 70 people on the waiting list. We would like to fit in another course in the year, but this is all subject to funding.
The phone service is always available to our clients.
The waiting list for counselling is about six people at the moment, as I have been able to reduce it. This equates to a one to two month waiting list. It is quicker than other services and it is free.
The waiting list for children services is around five months. This is due to the funding issues as all the workers are at capacity.
The services we offer are for victims deemed medium or low risk. High risk cases are referred to SPLITZ.
My housing background also enables me to help our clients with housing support. I liaise closely with councils and housing associations to work together to assist the client. Over the years I have built up a good network of contacts to aid our clients. There are limited support services in the area to be able to offer housing advice to our clients who are victims of domestic abuse.
My working day starts at 8am. I am a voice at the end of a line when someone calls in. I receive three to four new calls on average per day. When I speak to the clients I help identify their needs, whether it’s housing, financial, safety and if there is any immediate risk of harm. I also deal with all ongoing enquiries. If the line is busy there is an answerphone and I will call the client back. I record what I have done and diarise if a follow up is required. Some clients need further calls to organise telephone appointments in order to gauge their needs, and to enable me to undertake a risk assessment and work with them to engage them fully or find other agencies more appropriate to meet their needs. Once the referrals are in, my job is to fill the spaces with the counsellor and organise the slots. We are dealing with people in crisis and therefore offer them support which could be as simple as getting them to the GP or support them in chasing up the police.
A risk assessment is undertaken using DASH (police risk assessment). If a client’s score is over 14 they are too high a risk for our service and I refer them to Splitz. A referral is rare as most clients have already been linked to the right support service/agency. We normally deal with medium to low risk clients where the immediate risk of physical harm has or is likely to have ended but the emotional abuse continues, and the aftermath of the abuse is still affecting the client. Some people have been out of the immediate risk of harm for years but are only now able to deal with the emotional impact it has had on them.
We have five volunteers responsible for the ‘Finding your Voice’ service who all have their own case load. Some volunteers work from home in the evenings and some do face to face meetings at SAFE. We are aiming to expand this service, so we can take on more clients.
We also have five volunteer counsellors. All offer four hours counselling per week. Our counselling service is constantly full. Unfortunately, we do not have the rooms available to offer more counselling hours than this. Our counselling service is unique as it is free.
For each project there is a funding stream and my role is partially funded from each project. I manage the referrals for each project and the workers to ensure that we get the maximum out of the services we provide.
As well as being the Intake and Assessment Team Leader, my role also includes covering the Court IDVA role part-time, offering support to victims of domestic and sexual abuse during the criminal proceedings. This role includes helping the victim to get to court; familiarising them with the court layout by taking them around the court when it is closed; letting them know when the trial is going to happen and keeping them up to date with the proceedings. I will liaise with the prosecution to make sure there will be screens in place or video links in place when the victim is about to give evidence and ensure the prosecution will ask for restraining orders with appropriate restrictions to protect the victim afterwards. I will also give feedback to the client.
I receive regular supervisor from my line manager. There is always someone around to talk things through if I find things difficult or have a query and to make plans as to how best to support a client. There is a good support team around us not only for clients but for staff as well.
I therefore wear multiple hats in the office. I am office-based most of the time. The key to my role is assessing if we are offering the right service to our client. Most of my work is by telephone and email.
SAFE is a lovely environment it is open and there is always someone you can have a discussion with.
Intake & Assessment
Stop Abuse For Everyone
1 Queens Road