Charity of the month: Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline
PUBLISHED: 11:19 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:19 13 June 2017
Taking around 2,500 calls a year from victims, perpetrators and concerned family and friends in the county, the service is a 'first step to a happier life'
For the past 15 years anyone who has lived with domestic abuse has been offered vital support by Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline.
It was set up by a member of the Hertfordshire Constabulary Harm Reduction Unit who realised victims, perpetrators, family and friends needed someone they could reach out to for help and advice. The service is free and confidential for anyone affected by domestic abuse. Initially in Welwyn, Hatfield, Hertsmere and St Albans, the helpline now covers 10 districts in the county and became a registered charity six years ago.
Helpline manager Jo Gibson said, ‘You can hear the relief in people when you give them space to share the horror of what is going on in their lives. You can hear the gratitude when they realise there are things they can do to stay safe and keep their children safe. You can hear the empowerment start to manifest in people when they realise the possibilities. It’s an honour to do this work. I like to think of us as the first step on a journey to a healthier happier life.’
Trained staff take around 2,500 calls a year from female and male victims as well as perpetrators looking for help addressing their behaviour, concerned family and friends, and professionals seeking advice to give clients.
‘Increasingly we are seeing more attacks on men by women. But it also includes elder abuse, abuse in same sex relationships, and boyfriend/girlfriend abuse,’ Jo explained.
The line is open from 9am–9pm Monday to Friday and at weekends from 9am–4pm. Staff can refer callers to more than 200 agencies, depending on individual need.
Christine Roach, charity chairman, said, ‘Domestic abuse is everyone’s business. Nationally it affects one in four women and one in six men and at least 750,000 children annually. The service we provide signposting victims to sources of help and advice makes a real difference to the people of Hertfordshire.’
It costs around £30,000 a year to fund Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline with only a quarter of this covered by grants. The charity is looking for local businesses willing to sponsor the service or to organise a charity event to support it, as well as helpline volunteers.
If you would like to help, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org
If you or anyone you know needs the helpline’s support, call 0808 8088088.