Business 365 Issue 4

Children & Families First By Joni Beck

My journey with The Children's Centre began in 2005 when I was first introduced to the remarkable and varied work undertaken with children and families on the Isle of Man. Inspired by the difference the work made to the lives of service users I decided to study Health and Social Care at UCM. Following my graduation, an opportunity arose for me to return to the charity that first inspired me to work with children and families.

In the past 15 years, I have seen many changes to the charity, but one thing has remained paramount, the core work of supporting children, young people and families who need our help.

As a children and families support practitioner, I have seen first-hand the negative social, economic, emotional and educational impacts of domestic abuse. Supporting these families to recover from their trauma, stopping intergenerational trauma and abuse is something I have been interested in for some time now.

In September 2019, I attended a 'SafeLives' domestic abuse training session brought to the Isle of Man and funded by the Joanna Simpson Foundation, a charity set up after the tragic murder of Joanna Simpson and in her memory to support children and women impacted by domestic abuse. After listening to Dianna Parks tell her daughter Joanna's story I wanted to be involved in this work going forward. As domestic abuse can happen to anyone, I knew that specialised support would be important for so many families on the Isle of Man and that The Children's Centre is perfectly placed to provide a service in this arena.

In January 2021, The Joanna Simpson Foundation provided funding to The Children's Centre for a three year Domestic Abuse Support Project. This is an amazing opportunity to collaborate with the Joanna Simpson Foundation and for The Children's Centre to make a real difference in the lives of impacted families on the Isle of Man. Working closely with other services such as the Department of Home Affairs, Victim Support, Space4Action and The Woman's Refuge. The Children's Centre plans to create a more robust service provision. At the end of this project our aim will be to secure funding to continue the project longer term.

The plan for the first year of the Domestic Abuse Project will be to support families who have been the victims of domestic abuse. The Children's Centre knows that every family is different and so the service we offer will be just as unique as those individuals. Taking a multi-agency approach, support will be planned to ensure that each need is being met. We will work in collaboration with individuals and use a range of therapeutic tools to promote empowerment; encouraging people to achieve their goals by focussing on building confidence and resilience. Tackling the short, medium and long-term effects of domestic abuse, including the impact of adverse childhood experiences, mental health and trauma through trauma-informed responses is fundamental to our work and this project.

Domestic abuse is not just an individual or a 'behind closed doors' family issue; it is a societal problem and therefore negatively affects our communities. The Isle of Man is not immune to the negative impact of domestic abuse and its impact is felt here just as much as it is in any other community. The instances of domestic abuse on the Isle of Man are comparable to that of the UK and like the UK, we have seen an increase of reported domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe that community working would be the natural next step for the second year of the project. With this in mind, we plan to look at possible opportunities for linking with, or the creation of support groups, community drop-ins, safe spaces and community allies.

The third year of the domestic abuse support project will focus on strategies for early intervention. Challenging and changing the attitudes that accept domestic abuse through focused education within schools would be one of the first steps towards this goal. Implementing specific training modules on domestic abuse in all willing education settings would be the aim.

How can you help?

There are many ways you can support our work.

  • £3,000 per day to run our charitable programmes
  • £7 benefit for every £1 spent on Thriving families programme
  • 40% of local children and young people engaged in our services
  • 16 groups of all ages hosted at the Farm each week