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The key organisers behind the conference: Rotarian Val Ayre, President Joe Fagan, Sarah Place from Victim Support and Rotarian Andy Carter.
first of Conferences the organised
town's Rotary Club was troubling but also gave glimmers of hope about something that is all around us but usually unseen. Countering Domestic Abuse and Modern Day Slavery was the subject of the first of an annual set of conferences.
One of the most shocking and emotional aspects of the conference, was when a young woman was brave enough to speak of how she had been beaten and abused by her husband. Members of the audience were visibly upset to hear how she had been described as worthless and ugly by her violent partner. She had been helped to escape the controlling pattern of verbal and physical abuse thanks to the Victim Support Team, who were able to help, where five separate reports to the police had been unable to generate criminal action against her abuser.
The meeting heard from former Crown Prosecuting Solicitor, Linda Vance, of how difficult police and the CPS found it, to ensure cases were brought to court because so much of the abuse was out of sight and difficult to prove.
The conference heard that this was where agencies such as Victim Support could step in and shelter victims as they rebuilt lives.
Keynote speaker, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said the police were now putting much more effort into tackling domestic violence. He added, it was important with this ‘unseen crime’ that all of society tries to spot the issue and if necessary guide people to the organisations such as Victim Support.
He particularly praised the work of the newly set up Women out West (WOW!) Centre in Whitehaven.
The WOW! Centre is at Haig Enterprise Park in Whitehaven. Rachel Holliday from WOW! was at the conference. WOW! is designed to help women in all kinds of circumstances, from victims of domestic violence, to those affected by separation or
divorce, women living in poverty or on low incomes, to those who want to set up their own business. There have been dedicated women's
centres in Carlisle and Barrow, but not in the west of the county.
Rachel Holliday described it as: “A place where women who are facing a difficult time, for whatever reason, are able to get the help and support they need in a safe environment.”
Police Chief Inspector Craig Smith said he was lead on the issue of modern day slavery where he pointed out the 2015 Act now included a possible life sentence for offences. He said some recent cases had tackled safeguarding and safety issues for casual foreign workers hired on building sites and poor safeguarding for workers in the fishing industry. He said it was extremely challenging to unpick the legitimate from illegal exploitation in such areas as pop-up- car washes, nail bars and the takeaway trade. He explained many are perfectly legitimate, so it can be difficult to investigate.
Taking part in the conference, which was organised jointly by Rotary and Cockermouth Churches Together were:
Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall
Victim Support, Sarah Place Safety Net, Jo Birch Turning the Spotlight, Laraine Carr
Modern Day Slavery, Detective Chief Inspector Craig Smith
The Rotary team has also facilitated follow- up Domestic Champions training, which will be delivered by the Freedom Project. This will give information on how to spot the signs, symptoms and different types of domestic abuse, along with who and where to signpost to for help and what can be done to properties to enable better security.
The conference was closed and all participants thanked by Rotary District Governor Mary Bradley.
Dave Siddall ISSUE 432 | 20 JUNE 2019 | 44
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