Community members play a vital role in creating lasting change to end violence and abuse.
New report outlines how Welsh Women’s Aid and local specialist services have been working with community members and professionals to help communities empower survivors of abuse to access support and build lives free from abuse.
At Welsh Women’s Aid, we know that a victim or survivor of violence or abuse will likely disclose to someone within their community first, before considering reaching out for specialist support.
Consequently, the right response of those within our communities- colleagues, neighbours, friends, faith leaders and so on- is a vital component in our mission to end violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Change That Lasts was created to support communities to do just this. This model, developed by Women’s Aid Federation England in partnership with Welsh Women’s Aid and survivors, is one which promotes awareness raising and safe intervention in relation to violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and, crucially, places the needs of survivors at its core. With the priority being a survivor’s recovery from trauma and the reclaiming and reengagement of the life she wishes to live, support is offered based on a survivors needs, building on her strengths and available resources. Taking a holistic approach, the Change That Lasts model also prioritises early intervention-including addressing the root causes of abuse and those who use harmful behaviour. This not only results in long-term sustainable change but can greatly reduce harm to all involved and can save money across sectors and services.
Change That Lasts has three branches, including the Ask Me scheme. Ask Me involves the training and support of ‘community ambassadors’ to improve awareness, understanding and responses within the wider community. These are not specialists or people working in the violence against women sector, but those who have everyday roles in their local communities and want to play an active role in ending violence and abuse. The success of the Ask Me scheme has already been profound. A recent interim report documented that 117 individuals have joined the Ask Me scheme. Members have played a vital role in awareness raising; distributing 3,998 pieces of important literature to members of the public, and reaching 13,747 individuals through their community activities. Online conversations and signposting have also been a success, with a reported 20,310 people being reached by community members through social media.
I feel better informed about how to respond to a survivor who confides in me… My knowledge of the help available and how to point someone in the right direction has given me this confidence (Ask Me training feedback).
The ripple effect of investing in Ask Me is significant- almost 10% of Cardiff’s population have been reached with materials and conversations about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Miriam Merkova, Welsh Women’s Aid Head of Project Development said:
The covid-19 pandemic both altered the role of communities and emphasised their importance. When individuals were forced to be isolated in homes that were not safe, or limit contact to necessities, every space entered, and interaction made became essential. As restrictions begin to alter across the country, Welsh Women’s Aid are delighted to be rolling out more Ask Me training across new parts of Wales.
South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael said:
“Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence is devastating and often results in a lifetime of adversity for victims, their families and communities. It does not discriminate – it is abhorrent but it is preventable, which is why we are committed to innovative working with our partners to tackle this scourge. Domestic violence and abuse is in itself a driver of further violence and harm in a number of ways and is deeply damaging to families and communities.
“I have been very pleased to fund the ambitious Change that Lasts project because is a fantastic example of a strengths-based, needs-led approach that supports domestic abuse survivors and their children to build resilience, leading to independence. It works – it makes a real difference. By learning from the experience of survivors, it places the safety of victims at its heart, ensuring that systems are established to assess perpetrators and provide appropriate interventions.”
Jo Todd, CEO of Respect said: In Change that Lasts, Welsh Women’s Aid has created a trailblazing, integrated approach that’s helping transform community responses to domestic abuse. Their approach puts survivors’ needs at the centre, shifts the dial on community awareness, and empowers non-specialist professionals to respond confidently to abuse.
“We’re delighted to be working alongside Welsh Women’s Aid to integrate a perpetrator response into Change That Lasts. By funding this work, South Wales PCC has signalled its commitment to giving perpetrators meaningful opportunities to change, as part of a wider approach that ensures all perpetrators receive an appropriate response. We look forward to working with Welsh Women’s Aid to grow our capacity, so more perpetrators can access the support they need, and survivors and children are safer.”
The project was piloted in Cardiff and its’ success in the city has resulted in exciting expansion opportunities into other areas in South Wales. Ask Me will soon be available in more places, in collaboration with vital specialist services including; Swansea Women’s Aid in Swansea, Safer Merthyr Tydfil in Merthyr Tydfil, Women’s Aid RCT in RCT, Atal Y Fro in the Vale of Glamorgan and Thrive in Neath and Port Talbot.
Lucy Reynolds, Director of Thrive Women’s Aid said:
“We are delighted to be working alongside Welsh Women’s Aid to develop Ask Me in Neath Port Talbot. The development of a community-based approach meets our strategic priority to adopt and promote a whole systems approach to preventing VAWDASV in order to generate lasting change in our community.”
Find all the latest information on the Ask Me training courses being delivered by following us on
@WelshWomensAid on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Notes to Editors:
- For more information, please contact Gwendolyn Sterk, Head of Public Affairs and Communications for Welsh Women’s aid on 073 7555 9518 and
- Read the full interim report for the Change That Lasts model here: Change That Lasts Evaluation
- Anyone affected by violence against women, domestic abuse or sexual violence in Wales can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800, via email, via live chat, or text –
07860077333 for 24/7 confidential information and support.