he AIRE Centre has recently held three well-attended training days and a day of consolidating all the information through completing an e-learning programme, as part of the UK FIRST Network. The training days were organised in the framework of “Project FIRST – Networks of first points of contact for victims of domestic and gender-based violence”, which brings together organisations from four EU countries: the AIRE Centre (UK) Centre ROSA (Croatia), the ISA Institute (Slovakia) and Centre Dinamika (Bulgaria). The FIRST project aims to help stop and prevent domestic and gender based violence.
The training sessions conducted in the UK included participants from twenty organisations and were delivered by individuals who are experts in the field of domestic violence and gender based violence, namely social workers, psychologists, and AIRE centre lawyers. The training was structured around small, facilitated workshops and presentations to allow all participants to engage and enter into practical discussions.
“Thank you very much for this opportunity. It is a great initiative and I hope to see this project take life in other countries as well”
The overall objective of the training was to build capacity and equip all participating organisations with basic knowledge so that they can become a FIRST point of contact for victims of domestic and gender-based violence.
The AIRE Centre opened the workshop by welcoming the participants and conducting introductory and ice breaking activities with the participants, the purpose of which was to establish the starting point of the participant’s knowledge about domestic and gender based violence, and also to familiarise them with each other. In the next session participants were led through a presentation on the ABC of domestic and gender-based violence, following which the participants worked together in smaller groups to identify the most important issues surrounding domestic and gender-based violence. The conclusions of the groups were then shared in plenary . Lastly, a presentation was delivered by Camille Rouse, a Community Advocacy Worker from the London Black Women’s Project, in which she provided key information and interesting insights into the cultural aspects of domestic and gender-based violence.
Day 2 began by completing the ABC of domestic and gender-based violence, discussing matters such as the risk factors of domestic and gender-based violence as well as the specific dynamics of a violent relationship. Following this, the participants came together to discuss and brainstorm on early indicators of potential domestic violence that they have witnessed within their own practises. This discussion led to the production of a non-exhaustive and practical list of possible indicators and warning signs. The session then continued with the psychological aspect of domestic violence. Both Dr. Eileen Walsh, from the Helen Bamber Foundation and Dr. Anne Jensen, a clinical researcher and a published author on emotional healing and stress reduction, provided their expert viewpoints and advice on understanding victims’ needs and on best practice when dealing with victims of domestic and gender-based violence.
The focus of Day 3 was on the legal rights of victims of domestic and gender based violence. Saadiya Chaudary, Solicitor and Legal Project Manager at the AIRE Centre trained the participants on International, European and domestic legal frameworks for combating domestic and gender based violence, the various right and remedies available to victims of domestic violence in the UK and the common problems which many victims with uncertain immigration status faced in accessing support. The second part focused on victims of human trafficking, as the latter is a crime which falls under the gender based violence umbrella. Markella Papadouli, Registered European Lawyer and Legal Project Manager at the AIRE Centre, also provided information on existing International, European and domestic legal frameworks protecting victims of human trafficking. The focus was on the early identification of a victim or a potential victim of trafficking as well as the indicators of trafficking in human beings.
Following these three training days, the participants completed the FIRST e-help tool, an e-learning programme that provides advice, answers and guidelines for specific and common situations of domestic and gender-based violence. Upon completion, participants received a certificate of completion.
The feedback from the training sessions was overwhelmingly positive, Participants greatly enjoyed the chance to meet like-minded people from different organisations, increase their knowledge on the issues tackled, the opportunity to network and to learn from one another, and the chance to explore diverse viewpoints and experiences.
At the end of the conference, the participants’ committed to disseminating the FIRST project training within their organisations and provided contact details to the rest of the network.