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In the final of our 16 blogs for 16 days, IRISi Comms and Events Manager Allie Bailey talks about her role in putting the Look Beyond project together, why it’s so important personally and professionally and the lasting legacy that Pathfinder and IRISi hope it will leave. 

I joined IRISi back in April 2019 as Comms and Events manager, having not worked in the sector before. The first few weeks of the job were spent raking through DVA reports, statistics and survivor stories. Although I had an idea of the scale of DVA in the UK, I had no idea that it was not recognised as a health issue and was quite frankly shocked that it was going unrecognised and unreferred in thousands of health settings around the country. I simply couldn’t understand how someone could go to the doctor and be sent away without questions being asked about repeated visits, injuries or mental health issues. From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed that GPs and health care workers were just under too much pressure time wise and target wise to have the time to deal with this serious underlying issue. 

The more that I read and learned, the more angry I became.

We have worked with a number of survivors first-hand on various projects, and I have met them and heard their stories. From women trapped in abusive relationships for 22 years to women who have been to see GPs with human bites on their fingers and not been asked any questions.  The stories I heard shocked me. Why weren’t people asking questions and what could we do about it? 

The work that IRISi do is incredible. The IRIS programme facilitates health care workers being trained to recognise and refer patients, and to understand that not only does the programme save lives, it also saves the NHS money and time. Its implementation means less frequent visits to surgeries and more direct help for patients. The worst thing about it is that the IRIS programme is a choice for commissioners and not mandatory practice. It has been proven to work and with 15,000 referrals and counting, I knew that we needed to make more noise about the work that IRISi and the other members of the Pathfinder Consortium have been doing. That is when I came up with the idea to present this work under the banner Look Beyond. 

Whether a patient is showing physical injuries, signs of mental illness, depression, anxiety, or issues around substance use, it takes someone to look beyond what is presented, and ask why this person has repeatedly visited their GP. It extends beyond just general practice, mental health and acute health services. Although it should seem obvious, the work in the field of dentistry surprised me and has proven to be vital.  Reading reports about rural domestic abuse made me wonder if vets have a duty of care not just to the animals, but to their owners and carers. Who was there for the patients who couldn’t tell their doctor in close knit communities?  DVA is a huge societal problem and everyone involved in healthcare should be looking for the signs, however well hidden. 

The words “Look Beyond” should be a constant reminder to all health care workers to look a little deeper into the symptoms their patients present. It should become second nature. DVA does not discriminate by class, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity. It is all around us, hidden in plain sight. We need to Look Beyond to see it. 

Our campaign was built around 16 blogs to mark the 16 days of action, including and following the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2019. Every day for 16 days we published a blog on our website and social media that covered a different topic, be that DVA in dentistry, the work of organisations like Gamecar, or the work IRISi and the Pathfinder consortium have been doing. We want these blogs to raise awareness of our work in the health care sector and remain as points of reference for anyone looking for information into this area. 

These blogs were supported by the first Look Beyond event, a networking day in December in Bristol. We invited a number of speakers along to talk about the work they are doing and the work they would like to see done over the next few years to help get DVA recognised as a health issue in the UK. We were thrilled to welcome Nicole Jacobs, Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, Prof Paul Coulthard, Dean of Dentistry at Barts, Sarah Charters, Consultant Nurse, ED at Southampton Hospital, Michelle Sheridan and Claire Bennet from our IRIS Blackpool Site, Ruth Atkinson from AVA and Emma A, an IRIS service user and DVA survivor. Each speaker spoke passionately about the work that Pathfinder and IRISi have helped to implement and develop in their area, and of its importance. All of them spoke about the need to Look Beyond in order to identify and refer patients. 

We welcomed over 60 guests from all over the country, many of them health care professionals working with IRIS or Pathfinder to meet each other, share best practice and listen to our speakers. We plan to make the Look Beyond Network Day an annual event. 

Look Beyond is not a one-off campaign.  3rd December will be the day we all Look Beyond, a stand out day within the 16 days of action; the national day of health within the DVA sector. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who has got in contact to help or written a blog or attended our network day. Each and every one of you has shown the passion and hard work that goes into working within the VAWG sector. We all have a duty to Look Beyond and I hope that the legacy of the last 16 days remains for many years to come. 

We commissioned this piece of artwork to mark the legacy of Look beyond. It is available to buy now here. All profits go to the IRISi Survivor Engagement fund which allows us to work with survivors of DVA and get their voices heard.

Allie Bailey is Comms and Events Manager at IRISi.

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Partners

AVA
AVA
AVA

AVA is an expert, groundbreaking and independent charity working across the UK.

Their vision is a world without gender based violence and abuse. They aim to  inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage and enable direct service providers to help end gender based violence and abuse particularly against women and girls.AVA’s work is focused around those areas where they can make the best contribution to ending violence and abuse. They do this by making sure that survivors get the help and support they need in the here and now, through providing innovative training that has a proven direct impact on the professional practice of people supporting survivors of violence and abuse

developing a range of toolkits, e-learning and other material that supports professionals to provide effective and appropriate support to survivors of violence and abuse

using our influence and networks to ensure survivors voices are heard. We work closely with AVA in many areas including the Pathfinder project

https://avaproject.org.uk

SafeLives
SafeLives
SafeLives

SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. SafeLives are members of the Pathfinder consortium.

http://www.safelives.org.uk/about-us

IMKAAN
IMKAAN
IMKAAN

Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation. We are the only national second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls i.e. women and girls which are defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME). The organisation holds nearly two decades of experience of working around issues such as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence.

They work at local, national and international level, and in partnership with a range of organisations, to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls. Imkaan works with it’s members to represent the expertise and perspectives of frontline, specialist and dedicated Black and minoritised women’s organisations that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Imkaan delivers a unique package of support which includes: quality assurance; accredited training and peer education; sustainability support to frontline Black and minoritised organisations; and facilitation of space for community engagement and development. They are a part of the Pathfinder Consortium.

https://www.imkaan.org.uk

The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.  It is part of Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

A dedicated team of researchers at the Centre work on domestic abuse projects and IRISi is a co-collaborator and partner on some of these projects including ReProvide, HERA and DRiDVA.

The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. The Health Foundation’s Exploring Social Franchising programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the potential of social franchising models for scaling effective health and social care interventions within the NHS.

We are one of four project teams participating in the programme to develop a social franchise to enable the sustainable spread of our intervention, the IRIS Programme. We receive funding and support from the Health Foundation, including technical expertise on social franchising, and attend programme learning events. The Health Foundation has also commissioned a programme-wide evaluation to support understanding of the use of social franchising in the UK health and care system. We and our franchisees will support the evaluation through co-designing data collection requirements, providing access to data as requested, hosting site visits and attending learning events.

https://www.health.org.uk

STADV
STADV
STADV

Standing Together Against Domestic Violence is a UK charity bringing communities together to end domestic abuse. They bring local services together to keep people safe

Most public services weren’t designed with domestic abuse in mind, and they often struggle to keep people safe. Poor communication and gaps between services put survivors at risk.

STADV aim to end domestic abuse by changing the way that local services respond to it. They do this through an approach that they pioneered, called the Coordinated Community Response. The Coordinated Community Response brings services together to ensure local systems truly keep survivors safe, hold abusers to account, and prevent domestic abuse.

Their model of a coordinated local partnership to tackle and ultimately prevent domestic violence is now widely accepted as best practice. They are also a part of the Pathfinder consortium.

http://www.standingtogether.org.uk

Spring Impact
Spring Impact
Spring Impact

Spring Impact is a not-for-profit social enterprise born out of the frustration of seeing social organisations constantly reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources. Spring Impact uses a combination of tested commercial and social principles and extensive practical expertise to support organisations to identify, design and implement the right social replication model to scale their social impact.

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