KMPT and Kent PCC strengthen support for domestic abuse victims

Date added: 10 February 2023

Over the last year, 100 victims of domestic violence and abuse have received additional emotional support thanks to a new initiative being driven by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) and Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Research carried out by the charity SafeLives found there is a strong association between having mental health problems and being a victim of domestic abuse, and those experiencing mental health conditions are more vulnerable to domestic abuse. It said that 42% of people accessing support from a domestic abuse service reported mental health concerns in the same year, and that such services were not always equipped to best support their mental health needs. 

To strengthen the support available for Kent and Medway residents, KMPT created a new, dedicated role - a health independent domestic violence and abuse advocate (HIDVA). The role is funded by the Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner and sits within KMPT’s safeguarding team, with a focus on identifying service users at risk of domestic abuse.

Kerry Wallace took on the role in 2021 and leads on providing enhanced training for KMPT staff and offering practical, emotional support to those in need. Since then 100 people have been actively supported.

On Friday 10 February, the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, visited KMPT to hear from Kerry about the difference the service is making to vulnerable people living in the county. He also met with Dr Adrian Richardson, KMPT director of partnerships and transformation, and Alison Deakin, KMPT head of safeguarding, to learn more about how KMPT is supporting victims of domestic abuse.

Kerry Wallace, KMPT’s health independent domestic violence and abuse advocate, said: “Domestic abuse can have an enormous effect on your mental health and, due to the complex mental health needs of many of our service users, they can be more vulnerable to abuse. My role is to work closely with staff and our service users to help identify people at risk in the first place, and then make sure they have the right safety plans and support in place. This helps them make a faster recovery.”

Alison Deakin, KMPT head of safeguarding, added: “KMPT cares for people with significant and complex mental health needs, and our service users can find it very difficult to tell us if they have, or are experiencing, domestic violence or abuse. It has been an issue we have been determined to address and the introduction of this role has had a positive impact in helping protect and support people.”

Matthew Scott, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, commented: “I’m really impressed with the work going on in the Trust. The team is protecting really vulnerable people from two of the most serious crimes, domestic abuse and sexual violence. It’s clear the staff have a really strong focus on safeguarding and helping people in their time of need.  

“They’re really delivering some impressive results, proving they’re making a real difference to people’s lives. They’re also building people’s confidence so they feel able to report and disclose. I would like to congratulate the Trust in its safeguarding provision.”

Due to Kerry’s success in the role, illustrated by the number of service users supported and successful training provided to staff, the funding has been extended for a further two years.