The Wokingham Paper

WATCH: Neighbours urged to spot signs of domestic abuse in their community

A VIDEO has been released in the hope to support people and families facing domestic abuse, neglect and violence during the coronavirus lockdown.

Created by NHS Berkshire West CCG, the video has been published due to concerns that referrals into many services supporting vulnerable families have dwindled since the lockdown.

However, domestic abuse services have seen a rise, as couples and families are forced together for very long periods of time self isolating.

At this time, many organisations such as schools, day care centres, children’s centres are operating differently.

And this means staff trained to spot cases of abuse are not having their usual close contact with vulnerable people. 

The key message of the video is to urge neighbours, friends and other people within communities to keep an eye and an ear out for possible cases of abuse. And if they’re not sure if what they’ve seen or heard is abuse, then to err on the side of caution and report it.

‘Be Brave, Speak Up’ features Liz Stead, head of safeguarding children at Berkshire West CCG, and has been made in partnership with the Berkshire West Safeguarding Children Partnership.

Ms Stead said: “Abuse and neglect are often hidden and subsequently identified when skilled workforces in day-to-day roles spot the signs.

“Now everyone is, quite rightly, obeying the Government’s guidance on staying at home, we know it can bring things to a head in a lot of households. People are worried about the virus, there’s uncertainty about employment and having the money to pay the bills and concern about not being able to see extended family and friends. Crucial family support networks are somewhat cut off because of isolation and social distancing.

“All this is a melting pot of very heightened emotions and the figures coming out from various agencies suggest a really worrying rise in domestic violence and concerns about hidden child abuse and neglect.

“Our concern is that cases of abuse escalate and go unreported because these trained professionals don’t have the usual access to those at risk.

“This is why we’d like everyone to watch and share the very short video which just gives some quick and easy advice on what to do to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults in our communities.”

The film is also available on the Berkshire West Safeguarding Children Partnership website, along with more information and advice on domestic abuse, emotional health, financial help, coping strategies for new parents, homeschooling and keeping children safe on-line.

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