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Social workers given updated DA guidance

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has issued a new guide to help social workers who support domestic abuse victims-survivors and their children.

The goal is to provide an overview of the most up-to-date findings around domestic abuse in England, the legislative framework, and evidence-based models which can be readily applied to practice.

“In creating the guide, we have consulted with domestic abuse victims-survivors. Their messages are the golden thread which keeps this guide real, relevant, and focused on people with lived experience,” the association said in its introduction to the 58-page document.

“Written amid the coronavirus pandemic, the guidance was developed through the lens of social work in national emergencies. Learning is still emerging. However, early evidence from both statutory and voluntary UK agencies have highlighted the increased risk of domestic abuse.”

The association refers to Refuge reporting a 25% increase in calls and online requests since the March 2020 lockdown, a 150% rise in visits to its helpline, and the UN Population Fund predicting there will be at least 15m more domestic abuse cases around the world 2020/21 as a result of pandemic restrictions.

“These figures are startling, and though the pandemic itself will pass, the suffering endured by domestic abuse victims-survivors may last a lifetime,” the association stated.

“Without meaningful interventions, there will be long-term impact on victim-survivors’ lives, including children. For this reason, we have included both preventative and responsive interventions.”

The introduction concludes: “We must ensure that any learning from this difficult period must be preserved, to ensure the right response in future emergency contexts.”

Among the areas the guide covers are understanding domestic abuse, legislation and policy, children and young people, minorities, disabilities, mental health and substance misuse. There are also ‘top tips’ from survivors and advice for social workers on how to make the initial contact with families.

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