Us Too Project Update: Women with learning disabilities standing up to domestic abuse

‘Us Too’ is a user-led project, taking place in Cornwall and Devon, on domestic abuse and learning disability/autism.

The project will:

  • offer free training for women and girls with learning disability or autism, and for the staff who support them.
  • provide advice on best practice and policy for social care providers and commissioners.
  • consult with domestic abuse/sexual violence services (DASV) on improving their accessibility.
  • look to work with a national umbrella organisation for DASV providers to disseminate best practice.

Some of the ‘Us Too’ Project Team Members

Us Too project update

As the coronavirus crisis struck the team was on its way to completing their training targets for peer education workshops and training for professionals. Initial evaluation suggests that the training was going down well.

We are still hopeful that we will be able to work with domestic abuse services in Devon & Cornwall in the autumn, supporting them to become more accessible to girls and women with learning disabilities and/or autumn; and after that disseminate project learning nationally.

We are well on our way to making some staff training for social care providers available online, and this should happen in June/July, with pilots being arranged with Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council – please get in touch if you have services in those areas. We have already completed training sessions for Shared Lives. These sessions will be recorded and you will be able to access them right here.

Getting our peer education training online is proving more problematic. Our experience to date is that successful outcomes from these workshops depends largely on the quality of support from carers, and we are unsure how to achieve this online. Further, we have received disclosures of abuse at many of our workshops. When we are working face-to-face the team is experienced in supporting these disclosures and working with safeguarding procedures that follow. We don’t know how this can be guaranteed online. Hence we are submitting funding bids to support work that will lead to protocols for our trainers and learners.

To find out more about what the project involves and how it’s been going watch our webinar for the Supported Loving Network.

Us Too Project Overview

Phase 1

Us Too will recruit a team of women with learning disabilities with experience of domestic abuse/sexual violence. This team will explore their experiences, and use these to design and deliver peer education workshops, and to staff supporting people with learning disabilities, mostly in social care.

The team will also support social care providers to introduce/improve their policy on domestic abuse, and will work with commissioners to disseminate best practice throughout the sector.

Phase 2

The Us Too team will build on the work of Phase 1 to design and deliver training and guidance for women’s centres, rape crisis/sexual abuse services and refuges across Devon and Cornwall

Phase 3

The learning from Phase 2 will be taken to a national umbrella organisation for sexual crisis services to be disseminated nationally, in the form of guidance, teaching resources and a 2-day training event.

Key Targets

1) Peer education workshops. We aim to carry out 25 sessions with 8 women in each session. Workshops will cover:

  • What do good/bad relationships look like?
  • What is domestic abuse?
  • How can I avoid it?
  • What can I do if it is happening to me?
  • How can I report it and what will happen if I do?

2) Professionals’ workshops. We aim to carry out 25 sessions with 16 social care staff in each. Workshops will cover:

  • What is domestic abuse?
  • Indicators of abuse
  • How to support women at risk of abuse
  • How to support women experiencing abuse

3) Support service providers to review their safeguarding policies and procedures and other related policies, to improve prevention, detection and reporting of domestic abuse.

4) Share best practice and guidance with Local Authority Commissioners.

5) Deliver guidance and training to counsellors from 8 sexual crisis services in the far South West, with 8-10 Counsellors in each workshop. Workshops will cover:

  • recognising learning disability.
  • communication skills.
  • networking with learning disability providers.
  • service provision and accessibility for women with a learning disability.

6) Offer training and information on the learning outcomes of the whole project to 15 counsellors from a national umbrella organisation, with a view to national dissemination through their membership and networks. This will include advice on service accessibility, including online.

7) Produce a video which will include interviews with women with a learning disability who are survivors of Domestic Abuse or Sexual Violence.

Project Lead