I thought I would take this opportunity to provide an insight into First Light over the last twelve months.
Having to navigate a global pandemic whilst also trying to maintain services at a particularly crucial time has been far from easy. But despite all that, with the support of our commissioners, funders, individual donors and partners, we have not only succeeded in maintaining services, albeit delivered differently, we have also still found time to innovate and collaborate in response to new and emerging areas of need.
The Year 2020-21
The year started with the majority of staff across the service working remotely, with the exception of the Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and our Safer Futures helpline response team.
The pandemic also brought with it a number of funding opportunities to help try and mitigate the impact and increased demand.
As a result, we were able to introduce a number of new services which included;
- The introduction of live web chat which provided a safer means of communication for those living in fear at home who were suffering abuse.
- A new partnership with Coodes Solicitors who are providing free weekly legal clinics to clients experiencing domestic abuse
- The Safe Parent Pilot supporting parents of children who had been sexually abused
- Our volunteer mentoring pilot supporting clients who were experiencing domestic abuse
- Working with Devon & Cornwall police to provide a domestic abuse safety car pilot on Friday and Saturday nights, providing a follow up response to incidents the night they are reported
- The introduction of an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) triage post providing quality initial support to clients referred into the ISVA service
- The introduction of a Crisis Support Advocate within the SARC supporting clients who were on a waiting list for ISVA support following referral from the SARC.
Funding has also enabled the organisation to expand services, they include:
- An additional Children’s and Young Persons Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) to support more children and young people in Cornwall affected by domestic abuse and childhood sexual exploitation (CSE).
- Assertive Outreach IDVA to work with drug and alcohol organisation We Are With You supporting people.
- Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) Triage which will enable quicker support for people affected by sexual violence.
- Male ISVA giving people the a choice of who supports them.
- Complex Needs ISVA supporting people affected by sexual violence who have other complex needs.
- Crisis Support Advocate to support people in Swindon after they have been to the sexual assault referral centre (SARC).
- Recovery Pathway Administrator to help reduce waiting times.
- Helpline Response Team to extend operating hours into the evening and weekends.
- Sessional Counsellors to expand capacity in the Recovery Pathway in Cornwall.
In partnership with Barnardo’s, we successfully secured the GP Intervention & Referral Pathway two year contract with Cornwall Council, which means we will be training and supporting GP Practices across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly helping primary care services identify and support people affected by domestic abuse.
So as you can see it has been a busy year for so many reasons but I am immensely proud of all our staff and volunteers, for their dedication, compassion and commitment, because without them the trauma of domestic abuse and sexual violence would be so much greater for those who have had to endure it, but also incredibly grateful for the support we have been given from donors great and small, as it is only through your generosity are we able to do what we do, so THANK YOU to each and every one of you.