The Domestic Violence Support Service, Brent
DVSS is a grass roots, women-centred outreach service that offers emotional and practical support to women experiencing or fleeing domestic violence. The project is a joint initiative between Brent Women’s Aid (BWA) and the Asian Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC) and provides vital specialist services in the borough, particularly in relation to Asian and African- Caribbean women and children. In the first year, a total of 352 contacts with families were recorded, over half were children receiving regular support. The majority of referrals come from women who self-refer and who have heard of the service through word of mouth. Over five years ago BWC and AWRC campaigned through the Domestic Violence Forum to commission a study in Brent and make visible the specific needs of women experiencing domestic violence and the barriers preventing them from accessing services. In 2002 Gill Hague published the report and verified grass roots knowledge that there was a lack of culturally sensitive provision in the borough; those women most vulnerable and at risk were slipping through the net. In 2002 Brent Children’s Fund funded 2 outreach workers, one based at Women’s Aid and the other at AWRC to meet this need. In the past 3 years the project has grown from strength to strength and supported a significant number of women and children, in particular Asian and African-Caribbean families; this includes women with no access to public funds, women with insecure immigration status, and women affected by extreme violence and gun crime.