AVS Project Background

Around 21% of girls and 11% of boys experience some form of child sexual abuse. 23% of women and 3% of men experience sexual assault as an adult. 5% of women and 0.4% of men experience rape. (Cross Government Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Abuse)

According to the lead body SOLUTIONS in Luton, one in three offenses is domestic abuse, which states that there are clearly adults and children who are suffering in silence. In Luton sexual offences are 1.7 per1000 of the population which is higher than the national average of 1.0 per1000 of the population (Home Office data)

These abuses cause severe long term effects, which go beyond physical injury, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Long-term effects include, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, social phobia, substance abuse, obesity, eating disorders, self-harm and suicide, domestic violence and in some cases offending behaviour. Child abuse also impacts on educational attainment and school attendance.

Tying in with NRP’s core objective, in June 2010 we starting developing a service based in Sundon Park to provide immediate free one to one emotional support and practical advice from specialist trained volunteers, for as long as is needed.

Meetings with organisations and families affected by abuse of this kind have confirmed the need for support within the area, particularly one to one emotional support in a safe and secure environment.

Feedback from victims and families has identified the key needs of victims as:

•         The opportunity to share experiences and make sense of their situation

•         Emotional support from someone who is not a family member

•         Information and advice regarding financial support, housing, childcare and other complex needs.

The primary issue of concern from our clients is that they experienced insufficient and inadequate counselling.  Our approach is informed by direct feedback from victims who have stated that the conventional counselling approach is unsuitable for them.  We provide a “guided” ten step counselling service enabling victims to be in touch with their trauma; learn to understand and recover from it, and build a safer future.

Our service is an active and dynamic exchange opposed to the conventional passive approach which is not suitable in all cases.

Another concern our clients voiced was the time limitation on the services they had previously been provided. Our approach removes time restraints, allowing the opportunity for firm and trusting relationships with counsellors.  We have found this approach to be of greater benefit to clients, who are able to open up more fully, and direct healing begins sooner and at a deeper level.

NRP& AVS

This project has emerged because there are individuals within our organisation who are victims of abuse and feel a strong need for intervention and mental and emotional support be provided to others.

The AVS Project ties directly into the core objective of NRP that:-

“That each individual in society, irrespective of race, ethnic origin, gender, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, creed, disability, age, religion or political belief has the right to be and to provide; inspiration, motivation and achieve emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.”

Our Service

The Abuse Victim Support Project is a multi-stranded project consisting of one on one counselling and using art and performing art as therapy.

a.   AVS Counselling serves to provide a holistic package of emotional and practical support to those dealing with domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape; whether it is happening now or has happened in the past. We provide immediate and free one to one counselling for individuals, in safe and secure surrounding.

b.   AVS  “In the light” project was designed by victims of abuse and works in tandem with our A.V.S. Counselling project, it is two tiered:-

i.       Uses the Arts as part of the therapy and healing process, encourages abuse victims to participate in various art forms as a means of recovery and coming to terms with the devastating and long term effects that abuse has on its victims.

ii.       Raise awareness of the issue in the community by participating in art & cultural events, with the view to increase public understanding of the long term effects of such abuse, inform individuals of help provided and help individuals to identify causes and effects of abuse in the wider society.

One of the purposes of this project is to provide information as a preventative aim, to break the vicious cycle of abuse which is multi-generational, when left without intervention.

We continue to develop partnerships and establish referral and support procedures with the various agencies and are looking to move into a purpose built premises during this financial year

What distinguishes the AVS project from other services, is the approach we take to counselling. The many tiered approach that we take with our clients is a result of feedback from clients who have stated that the traditional approach has not always been successful. Our approach which has one on one sessions, groups sessions, arts as therapy sessions and service user forums allows our clients to create their own method of support, based upon a ten step programme.

We hold an annual community festival to raise funds and awareness of the AVS project. This festival to support a project that has been designed and implemented by victims of abuse from the Sundon Park area, seeks to tighten the bonds within this community and provides a significant opportunity for these victims of abuse to bring in a visible and direct focal manner public attention to their cause.

Equality And Community Cohesion

NINE RED Presents…(CIC) has a core aim “That each individual in society, irrespective of race, ethnic origin, gender, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, creed, disability, age, religion or political belief has the right to be and to provide; inspiration, motivation and achieve emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.”

As this is our core mission, all of our projects are underpinned with this message and are designed with this message in mind.

The organisation is diverse in its composition, in regards to Directors and Volunteers coming from varied social, cultural, ethnic, religious, educational, age and gender backgrounds.

It is the company’s policy to give opportunities to disabled persons. Our board of Directors has a member who is registered disabled. Our community services are specifically targeted at BME, disabled and socially disadvantaged groups and individuals, as such we actively encourage all individuals to become involved in all our projects.

The company works with the community inclusively and treats all people equally irrespective of race, ethnic origin, sex, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, creed, disability, age, religion or political belief

Social Inclusion

•         Service users are direct beneficiaries but also through the volunteering programme have the ability to contribute to the delivery of the project, its design and implantation.

•         The service users also have a forum to discuss the project and implement change and reform where needed, but also are provided with a platform from which they can engage with other appropriate agencies, such as UB Volunteering, Voluntary Action Luton, Police Service, CPS, Victims support, Rape Crisis, Housing, Luton NHS and Luton Borough Council.

•         Focused workshops and seminars are organized to generate an information exchange and grant service users a voice to be heard.

•         Service users and members of the community form the majority of the creative team and projects committee to ensure that our projects reflect the views and concerns of the wider community.

Project Evaluation

•         Stake holders and agencies attending Service User Forums brings service providers and agencies face to face with service users thereby enabling the latter to offer critical feedback on what works for them. In response it is expected that such feedback would influence service planners and policy changes. We will track the change in delivery approach adopted by provider.

•         Results of the effectiveness of the project will be fed back to stake holders and agencies, so that needs of survivors, as expressed can be taken into direct account when shaping and formulating policy. These results will be captured by our monitoring and evaluation exercises.

•         We will capture data on the number and level of participation in the programme by service users. Also we will monitor the level of participation in the “User Forums”

•         The monthly group sessions and healing arts sessions will be monitored for effectiveness and feedback from the group will be collected.

•         We will make use of both group feedback and responses to individual questionnaires which would be administered at particular juncture of the programme.

•         We will measure level of engagement with others in group sessions.

•         The degree of openness and spontaneity in communicative exchange.

•         Expressed change in communicative relationship with others close circle. Degree of change in confidence.

•         Comparative assessment individual from commencement on programme to present time, using a combination of observation and self-assessment by individuals in one to one exchange.

•         The level of confidence expressed/demonstrated in being able to engage with members of the public.

•         Reduced level of reliance upon service for counselling.

•         Ability to take direct responsibility for day to day affairs

•         Information will be gathered from direct feedback from service users. We will use the User Forum as a medium to capture this information.

•         We intend to learn the best approaches to supporting each individual client.

•         To learn and build new models for dealing with victims of abuse.

•         To be able to identify individuals who may be vulnerable to becoming a victim of abuse and alternatively the kind of individuals that could become potential abusers.

•         To discover the best approach to impart life skills to clients who have suffered domestic or sexual violence resulting in arrested development of key social skills.

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