A domestic abuse service has secured extra funding to tackle a “distressing” rise in the number of victims – including the growing number of boys and young men being affected.
According to Gorwel, which is part of the Grŵp Cynefin housing group, there has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of people being referred to them in Gwynedd and Anglesey during the coronavirus pandemic. They have now received an additional £150,000 from the newly-elected North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin, a passionate campaigner against domestic abuse.
The extra money received by Gorwel is part of a £1.3 million package being shared between a number of organisations who work with abuse victims in North Wales.
Other recipients include the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC), Stepping Stones North Wales, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre Domestic Abuse Support Unit North Wales.
Gorwel will be using the money to appoint three new Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors (IDVAs) to work in their high-risk domestic abuse team.
As well as two female staff, they are also looking to appoint the first male member of their IDVA team and a male children and young people worker, ideally Welsh speakers who can be a positive role model for children and young people being supported by Gorwel.
The trio will be collaborating with multiple agencies including North Wales Police to support abuse victims.
Osian Elis, assistant manager of Gorwel, said: “Male domestic abuse support workers are few and far between, making up only six of our workforce of 70 people.
“There is a serious shortage of male workers across domestic abuse support services in general and we hope that the new male-focused role will provide a positive role model to the boys and young men it supports.
“With the number of young boys and men affected rising, we need to be able to provide positive male role models to help reduce the impact of the childhood experiences associated with domestic abuse.
“The children and young people we support are deeply affected by witnessing domestic abuse, being a victim themselves, or even being involved with child to parent abuse among teenagers.”
Specialist training for the roles can be provided, and those appointed will receive regular clinical supervision and will benefit from Grŵp Cynefin’s staff wellness scheme.
Osian hopes that the training and support will attract interest from candidates that might not currently work in the support sector.
A trained pastry chef who previously worked as a restaurant manager and in the media, Osian started his career in support work 20 years ago, after volunteering and working with homeless people. He is one of the few men working in the field of domestic abuse.
“When we recruit, the majority of applicants are female, so we really need to raise awareness of the need for men for some of these roles,” he said.
“Male support workers, and especially Welsh-speaking male support workers aren’t easily found, but I urge anyone who’d like some more information about this type of work, qualified or not, whatever their level of Welsh, to contact us for more information.
“It’s an incredibly rewarding career that makes a real difference to children and people’s lives and futures. You will also get all the benefits of working for Grŵp Cynefin and its staff support.”
In the 12 months to the end of April 2021, 342 children and young people were supported, up from 253 from 2019/20. This included a rise in the number of males affected, from 119 to 141.
The organisation’s high risk domestic abuse team, IDVA, also worked with more individuals, with 525 supported, up from 495. Of that total, 47 were men compared with 40 in the year before.
PCC Andy Dunbobbin said: “As a White Ribbon Ambassador, tackling the scourge of domestic abuse is a key priority for me so I am very pleased that I have been able to secure this substantial extra funding to support the hugely important work of organisations like Gorwel.
“The fact that we have been in lockdown for so long over the past year or so has exacerbated the problem with people being cooped up in their homes.
“As seen by Gorwel, it has led to a worrying spike in cases so the fact that they are able to recruit more frontline staff to work with victims who are at risk.
“They have identified a need to appoint a male member of staff who can be a positive role model for boys and young men affected by the trauma of domestic abuse.”
Shan Lloyd Williams, chief executive of Grŵp Cynefin, said: “Gorwel’s work is immensely important to Grŵp Cynefin. The figures showing the rise in domestic abuse are distressing, but we are making a positive difference to victims’ lives.
“Our staff have been and continue to be incredibly conscientious and dedicated over the pandemic, going over and above their duties to help make victims safe.
“We are very grateful for this extra funding from the commissioner – three full time and one part-time posts will enable us to reach more people who need Gorwel’s services, and our first-ever male dedicated to helping children and young people will be a valuable and important asset within the team.”