An initiative to better support children who have witnessed domestic violence is being hailed as a success by the schools, children’s centres and health workers it helps.
Encompass Nottinghamshire, launched 18 months ago by Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottinghamshire Police, informs schools, early help and health visitors about domestic abuse incidents which have been reported to the police so the children involved can get the right support they need quickly.
Since it was set up, Encompass staff, based at the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), have made 920 calls to schools for children concerning domestic violence incidents, plus approximately 400 to health visitors and children’s centres about younger children.
Council education adviser Moira Cordon said: “Children can arrive at school distressed and angry and teachers often don’t know why, so the information provided by us fills the gap and helps adults understand what they are they are seeing and offer children the right emotional support.”
Examples of how this phone support has made a difference include:
• Where there were concerns about a child’s absenteeism from school, a family support worker was able to meet with the mum, who then disclosed the incident of domestic violence, and pastoral support was then put in place for that child.
• A young person at a large Nottinghamshire secondary school with challenging behaviour was beginning to disengage from school. As a result of the new information which came to light because of a call from the MASH, staff were able to take a gentler approach and work with the student and his mum to give him a bit of space in his day to talk to someone if he needed to.
• Where there had been no concerns at all about a family, a call alerted staff at a school that one of their pupils had witnessed a physical assault to her mum from mum’s partner. After the school asked if the child was ok, the child then told staff that she had been hurt when her mum had been hit trying to defend her. This led to the child having an assessment with children’s social care, support being put in place from Women’s Aid and the mum being made aware about the effects witnessing domestic abuse has had.