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Highlighting the tireless work of Glow’s Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs)
This week at Glow, we’re taking a closer look at the work of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs).
Glow’s IDVA service in Derby provides support to victims at high-risk of serious harm due to domestic abuse. IDVAs work tirelessly to find long-term solutions to help people who have experienced domestic abuse start a new chapter, free from abuse.
They carry out risk assessments, create safety plans and advocate for victims with other agencies and at multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC).
Two days are never the same for an IDVA and their work is often carried out in different settings such as hospitals, courts and in the community. They are highly trained, experienced and able to quickly adapt their support in all these different areas dependant on the individual support needs of the victim.
They work in the community but also within the court system to guide and reassure victims going through the legal process, mainly within criminal justice. They can also support with civil and family court processes too.
Within healthcare services, an IDVA may support teams in hospitals to better identify domestic abuse and signpost to the right services. They can also provide training to staff on responding to domestic abuse disclosures or simply meet victims of domestic abuse who are in hospital due to domestic abuse incidents and offer specialist support.
We asked Derby County IDVA Service’s Team Leader, Tracy Reynolds and Operations Manager, Jackie Capewell, to tell us more about the IDVA service.
Tracy said: “IDVAs are extremely important. They are highly skilled individuals, trained to work with high-risk victims of domestic abuse to keep them safe.
“IDVAs are an essential part of protecting those at the highest risk of serious harm or homicide due to abuse.”
Jackie added: “The IDVA service works tirelessly to make sure victims of domestic abuse are safe.
“The work that they do is complex, varied and constantly changing. This is because they have to continually prioritise their workload based on risk.
“This might include responding to a police call out or arranging for a victim to get support with emergency housing.
“It might also include applying for a non-molestation order, which is an order issued to stop an abuser using or threatening physical violence, intimidation, harassment or coming close to the victim’s home or work address.
“The work of an IDVA might also include talking to the employer of a victim and advising them on safety within the workplace. It can also involve working with an interpreter to communicate freely with a victim whose first language isn’t English.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, IDVAs adapted their roles to remain fully accessible to those in need of support.
Jackie said: “The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the work of an IDVA. Not only did we see an increase in domestic abuse over lockdown but getting in touch with victims in a safe way could be challenging.
“We adapted our services and made the most of video calls, emails and WhatsApp messages. We combined them with face-to-face visits (when it was safe to do so) to make sure the service remained accessible.
“The safety of victims always remained the most important thing, even when our workload – and the workload of partner agencies – absolutely trebled.”
Tracy added: “The IDVA role is very fast paced and demanding as our customers are nearly always at crisis point when they come to the service.
“This might be due to a recent incident that has put them at high-risk and can often include injuries needing medical attention at hospital.
“Our priorities are always shifting to make sure we are providing the right support to those in need.”
It’s important for IDVAs to be well supported within their team as the role can be emotionally demanding.
Jackie said: “Due to the complexity of the role and the risk involved, IDVAs are often left with the feeling that they can never do enough for their customers. This increases with a high caseload and can be both physically and emotionally draining.
“Clinical supervision and a strong team ethic are crucial, alongside supportive line management and IDVAs taking time out for themselves.”
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