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School-based Domestic Violence Champions presented awards by PCC Vera Baird

7th July 2016

Twelve students from Newcastle have successfully completed training to become school-based domestic violence champions, thanks to a project funded by Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird.

Last year two teenage domestic abuse peer educators took post at West End Women and Girls thanks to a successful funding bid to the Supporting Victims Fund, which helps Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird strengthen victim services across Northumbria.

The peer educators have been introduced as part of West End Women and Girls’ existing Safe Project, which is the first comprehensive community based domestic violence project in Newcastle, which delivers a needs-led, one-to-one approach with the victims it support.

Since taking on the role, the peer educators have been working within local schools to deliver sessions covering ‘what domestic abuse is’, ‘it’s effects’ and ‘healthy relationships’.

During the sessions, the educators promote the opportunity for students to become School-based Domestic Violence Champions, an initiative which replicates the success of Workplace Domestic Violence Champions, which was launched in 2013 and now has more than 600 people who have taken on the role in their place of work.

Following on from these sessions, twelve girls based at schools across the city have undertaken further training to become domestic violence champions within their schools. These champions are trained to raise awareness about domestic abuse among their classmates, as well as helping others to spot the signs and giving people their own age the confidence to seek help if they need it.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: “Our schools can play a significant role in helping put a stop to domestic and sexual violence and abuse for future generations. It’s vital that we get key messages out there to students at a young age and young people listen and engage with people their own age and that’s why same-age peer educators can have such a positive impact. Laura and Sophie are fantastic in their roles and have done a great job inspiring many girls at the schools they have visited. They have helped train them so they too can raise awareness and help others within their own school environments. I wish all of today’s graduates the best of luck in their new roles as champions and I am confident they will be a great asset to their schools.”

Huffty from West End Women and Girls, said: “We are very proud of the work Laura and Sophie have done, training young women to become school based domestic violence champions. These champions are the first in the region, also nationally, and have worked hard to complete the vigorous training. We believe they will make a huge contribution to preventing domestic abuse in the first place through awareness raising.”

The Supporting Victims Fund is a MoJ Fund being used to strengthen, enhance and improve victims’ services across Northumbria.

The aim of the fund is to maximise the potential of organisations to deliver vital services supporting victims of crime in the Northumbria area, helping them to cope and recover from their experience.

West End Women and Girls Centre is a youth and community centre in Newcastle that aims to empower women and girls and effect positive change in their leisure, work and social environments. For more information on West End Women and Girls, visit the website champions