Written by Charlotte Gibbon, Community Services and Children and Young Person Manager at Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service.

Growing up in a home with domestic abuse can have a serious impact on children and young people, with adverse experiences suffered during childhood known to change the direction of a young person’s life.

From a very young age, this environment will have a devastating and profound lasting impact on their behaviour in addition to their mental and physical wellbeing. 

If this is not addressed early, trauma caused by domestic abuse will almost certainly affect development with effects lasting long into adulthood, potentially leading to children and young people perpetrating abuse themselves.

Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA) has launched a much-needed Children and Young Person’s Youth Outreach pilot programme which has been funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).  

This specialist programme will support children and young people who have witnessed or experienced domestic abuse enabling them to cope and recover from the harm caused. It will provide interventions to address adverse experiences and reduce the likelihood of long-term negative outcomes by providing information, practical support and expertise. 

By offering 1-2-1 support for those aged seven to 18 years old the pilot will help them to manage difficult emotions, learn about healthy relationships and develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills to build resilience.

The support is being made more accessible to those who need it by enabling schools and colleges in Swindon to refer children and young people to the programme via a direct route.

The pilot which went live earlier this month allows parents and agencies such as Children’s Services, to refer children and young people, aged between 7 and 18, into the service directly through the school or college. Once the referral has been assessed, the child or young person will have regular sessions at their school or college encouraging them to make sense of their experiences and cope with future change with the aim of limiting any long-term impact. 

Prevention is always far better than cure, and this programme captures both of these elements by supporting victims and witnesses in addition to reducing the risk of further abuse and addressing any long-term harm at the earliest opportunity.

The service is accessible through all primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across the town. Parents or guardians wishing their children to have this support from SWA just need to speak to their child’s school, or college, to request a referral. Anyone with any queries can call 01793 864984 to speak to a member of the CYP Team.