At Glow, children and young people are at the heart of what we do.
This month, changes to the Domestic Abuse Bill will mean that children living in a house where domestic abuse takes place will be recognised as victims, rather than witnesses, of domestic abuse.
At Glow, we’ve always seen children and young people as victims. That’s why we work with children in safe accommodation, in the community and in schools to make sure they feel safe and have the right support in place.
This year, we’re launching the Opening Doors project in our refuge and community-based services. The project will offer combined support for parents who have experienced domestic abuse and their children.
Opening Doors was made possible thanks to funding from BBC Children in Need and is supported by a grant from the Arnold Clark Community Fund.
The money will allow staff to purchase equipment for activities such as messy play, sensory sessions, gardening and crafts. It will also help them arrange visits from external guests, such as Mini Beasts and storytellers.
Children and Young People Programme Lead, Ruth Mason-Tooth, said: “The Opening Doors project will provide holistic support to the families that we support.
“It’s not just a children’s activity programme – there is support for parents too. In some cases, this might mean providing parenting support and offering advice about how to implement routines and boundaries.
“It’s also about teaching parents how to play with their children. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, that won’t have been a priority before. For the children, there will be lots of activities, including messy and sensory play. Anything that will help them have fun and engage.”
Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on the relationship between a child and their non-abusive parent. The Opening Doors project aims to rebuild these relationships and help parents develop their parenting skills.
Ruth said: “The effects of domestic abuse on children start when they are in the womb and continues as they grow up.
“Parents will often say to us that their child never saw any abuse at home, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t hear anything.
“We encourage children to use their imagination and they’re really good at it. If they hear something going on downstairs, then they are imagining something. That’s already traumatic for them.
“The fact that we have the Opening Doors projects really shows that Glow is one of the first organisations to recognise children as victims of domestic abuse. Not only that, but we also recognise the impact that domestic abuse has on the parent-child relationship for the non-abusive parent.
“Domestic abuse has a massive impact on that relationship, so it’s about how we can help to rebuild that. That’s why we are so pleased to have parents and children together during sessions.
“We have three targets for the project. The first is to make sure that children feel safe and develop the knowledge to keep themselves safe. The second is to make sure they have better mental wellbeing and the third is to make sure they have improved relationships with their family and friends.
“By being welcomed into refuge, we hope that children and young people feel safe and secure and feel comfortable enough to start talking about what they might have seen or heard. That’s the starting point for us.
“You can’t do any work with a child who is in fear. They have to feel as comfortable and as safe as they can.”
You can find out more about our services for children and young people here.
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