Providing a Lifeline for Victims of Domestic Abuse

Women at risk of domestic abuse are to receive a lifeline – courtesy of NHS Forth Valley, which is donating used mobile phones to Women’s Aid groups across the area.

Handsets and chargers no longer required by NHS staff will be handed out to vulnerable women who are using specialist domestic abuse services and need access to safe phones. Calls will be paid for by Women’s Aid.

Pictured receiving the phones from NHS Forth Valley Energy and Utilities Assistant Tracy Gwynne are (left) Jessica Lindohf from Stirling and District Women’s Aid and (centre) Anne Gillingham from Falkirk and District Women’s Aid.

NHS Forth Valley’s Energy and Utilities Manager Colin Russell said:

 Previously we have sent phones for recycling but we thought that an organisation such as Women’s Aid would find them of great benefit. It’s good to know that this donation is helping keep women from harm.”

NHS Forth Valley Equality and Diversity Project Manager and Gender Based Violence Operational Lead Lynn Waddell added:

 People affected by domestic violence live in fear and those at greatest risk often feel isolated from the outside world and struggle to seek help. Having access to a safe phone plays a crucial part in supporting women and providing them with a lifeline. Many survivors of abuse come to health services for help and we currently support a range of interventions to improve care and support to thousands of patients who may not have told anyone else about the trauma they have suffered.”

The telephones were handed over at a special event at Stirling Community Hospital to mark the start of 16 Days of Action – a worldwide campaign which calls for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. The event, which was organised by NHS Forth Valley, brought together more than 100 delegates from a wide spectrum of organisations to develop strategies to prevent domestic abuse, improve the safety of victims and increase awareness of domestic violence across Forth Valley.

Police Scotland Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House, delivered the keynote speech and answered questions from the audience which included representatives from Women’s Aid, Victim Support, Forth Valley College and Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils. Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said:

 I am pleased to be able to support the 16 Days of Action initiative. Our policing focus is on keeping people safe and we want to encourage more people to come forward and report these crimes so by working together, we can ensure victims and their families are getting the right support and the perpetrators are dealt with appropriately. As a single policing service, Police Scotland has ensured that we can now bring a consistent approach to tackling domestic abuse right across the country. We’re providing specialist support to our local policing teams to ensure that every officer is equipped to deal with these issues. By working with our partners we can make real progress in bringing these issues out from behind closed doors and make a real difference in keeping people safe.”

Discussions also focussed on a number of other issues connected with violence. These included child sexual exploitation, stalking and the role of the police domestic abuse unit.
There were 60,080 incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland recorded by police in 2012-13, compared to 59,847 incidents recorded in 2011-12.