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Operation Encompass: Supporting Young People At Risk Of Domestic Abuse

30 June 2016
A sad child hugging his mother

Statistics released by the NSPCC and the Department for Education show that one in five children in the UK have experienced domestic abuse. In many instances those young people are going to school the next day with little or no support, but now a new scheme is aiming to provide much needed help to children and young people.

Operation Encompass will see the police work more closely with schools to ensure that children and young people get the help they need. Where previously forces will have shared safeguarding information with authorities such as social services, this new scheme will see them inform schools directly if they believe an incident of domestic abuse is occurring in a young person’s home. 

The headteacher who devised the scheme, Lis Carney-Haworth, told the BBC:

“I came home from work one day absolutely furious because in school I’d had a meeting with my education welfare officer and she told me about a case of domestic abuse that had happened with one of my children five months earlier.

I could pinpoint that incident of domestic abuse to when that child’s behaviour had changed. He’d gone from being a perfectly happy little boy at school to being a child who came in not wanting to leave the classroom, not wanting to go to assembly, hiding under tables, running out of the classroom, then becoming violent towards us.

This was just so ridiculous because the police had been called and nobody had bothered to tell me.”

Children & Young People’s Outreach Service

At Leeway we understand that every child will react differently to their experience of domestic abuse – though the most common effects can include anxiety, withdrawal, depression and aggressive behaviour.

To help children and young people who have been exposed to domestic abuse come to terms with their experiences, we provide a range of services. These are available to any young person aged between 5 and 19, and are delivered both in our refuges and in the wider community. They can take a number of forms, including: 

  • One to One Support: Through conversations with one of our trained workers, children and young people are given the opportunity to discuss anything they feel they need support with in a safe and confidential environment. All sessions are tailored to meet the needs of the individual and are based upon a bespoke support plan.
  • Group Work: Our group activities are designed to help children and young people develop the skills needed to effectively communicate their experiences. By increasing their self-esteem, offering advice on how to stay safe and healthy, and by looking at their own behaviour, we can help children and young people build positive relationships in the future. 
  • After School Activities: In many instances the opportunity to enjoy childhood and the opportunities available to young people can be put on hold while a parent is experiencing abuse. It may be that a young person is forced to care for a younger sibling or miss out on activities both in and out of school due to lack of money. Our after school activities provide an opportunity for adults and their children to enjoy time together in a safe environment.

A request for support can be made either by the young person themselves, or on their behalf by calling our helpline and asking to speak to one of our Children and Young People’s Outreach workers.

If you are experiencing abuse, or have concerns about someone who is, you can receive confidential support by calling our free 24-hour helpline on 0300 561 0077.