Having commenced in January 2016, Project FIRST: Capacity Building for First Points of Contact for Victims of Domestic and Gender-based Violence was a two-year initiative, implemented simultaneously in four countries and has sadly come to an end, this January 2018.
The AIRE Centre, as the UK based partner organisation, is a legal charity and its added value to the project was thus the legal aspect of domestic and gender-based violence. Flowing from this, a challenge of ours was the psychosocial aspect of the project. We found however that, by liaising with psychologists and social workers on a national level, Project FIRST enhanced our knowledge in the psychosocial effects of domestic and gender-based violence.
In the course of the project we constantly pushed ourselves to devise new methods to further the effectiveness, innovativeness, and applicability of the project’s objectives on a national level. Ensuring the early discovery of domestic and gender-based violence and providing appropriate support to victims was one of the core objectives of project FIRST and as such, the AIRE Centre came up with situations in a professional’s everyday life, either at work or on a personal level, which might serve as “indicators” or “red flags” of domestic violence. Those indicators were circulated across the EU, through our transnational and on-going multidisciplinary cooperation.
Our efforts came to fruition when we created a national network of organisations which are now well equipped to act as first points of contact for victims of domestic and gender-based violence. Some participants found the “legal side of the trainings” to be particularly useful, whereas others said the “psychological approaches” and encouraging them to think “about language and actions that may be helpful” when speaking to a potential victim were excellent.
While domestic and gender-based violence are grave evils, and continue to pose great risks to victims’ physical as well as mental health and quality of life, we believe that by undertaking the project we have made a step forward in raising awareness and addressing the needs for widely available psychosocial and legal support.