Meet Safe AS: Domestic Abuse Support For Young People In Cardiff

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Cover image for Safe AS domestic abuse article

Looking for information or support around domestic abuse in Cardiff? We spoke with Rachael from Safe AS about her project…

Safe AS, based on Moira Terrace in Adamsdown, is the children and young people’s team at Cardiff Women’s Aid. We interviewed them last year, and found out about the support and advocacy they give to children and young people affected by domestic violence and abuse. As well as this we learned of the work they do regards healthy relationships and emotional literacy too.

We think Safe AS do great work here at TheSprout and it’s high time we caught up with them again to see what they’re up to…

It’s been about a year since we last caught up, how’s things been at Safe AS?

Things are going well at Safe AS, we’ve had a very successful year. We were very fortunate to have a fantastic Christmas party at Margam Park thanks to Barclays for all of our children and young people. Our programme SODA is up and running and we have introduced the CYP Recovery Toolkit to offer more group work, so children and young people can also access peer support.

Soda logo for domestic abuse article Safe AS

SODA is for 13-18 year olds who have been affected by domestic abuse and are self-harming or have thoughts of suicide. What do you do in the group and how would a young person reading this get involved?

So, the group runs for 6 sessions and in it we make an agreement together; of what is OK and what’s not OK and anything else the group members need to make it a safe space. We then build or vocabulary around emotions and feelings so we have lots of words to express ourselves. We use this when we look at domestic abuse and the impact it has on children and young people, we create characters to do this so nobody has to say their personal experiences, however because we have made it a safe space young people can talk about their experiences directly and they are respected.

When we look at self-harm (session 4) and suicide (session 5) we can use the same characters to explore how they are feeling, and we do activities where the young people give the characters advice, guidance, support and ideas around harm reduction.

The final session is about saying goodbye, and making each other gifts. Young people can access this service by calling Safe AS on 02920460566 and chatting to one of the team, or young people, parents, schools or any support service can make a referral.

It sounds like a fantastic programme but also really sad that it’s needed. Aside from SODA club, are there any other services that young people can access at Safe AS?

Safe AS also offer one 2 one support with a CYP IDVA. IDVA stands for Independent Domestic Violence Advocate. They are specially trained to work with victims of domestic abuse. They can support young people to understand their experiences and do work around healthy relationships.

We also have an Early Years IDVA who supports children aged 8 and under and their main caregivers who have experienced domestic abuse. The Early Years IDVA uses age appropriate activities and resources with the aim of supporting children to understand their experiences, provide advocacy, explore different feelings and emotions, recognise appropriate behaviours, develop positive coping strategies and increase safety and understanding of domestic abuse and healthy relationships.

The Early Years IDVA can also provide parenting support which provides emotional support for caregivers. This support also explores parenting after domestic abuse, and aims to help caregivers to understand the impact domestic abuse may have on their child’s behaviour and development, and develop tools to support their child and strengthen the attachment between child and caregiver.

We have just started some more group work for young people and children.

Little stars for domestic abuse article Safe AS

Little Stars is a 5 week group programme for children age 6-11 who have experienced domestic abuse. This group is run by the Early Years IDVA with the support of a CYP IDVA. Peer support and age appropriate games and activities are used to explore feelings, emotions, and appropriate behaviours, and support children to understand domestic abuse and healthy relationships, as well as helping children to develop positive ways of coping and increasing their safety.

There is also the CYP Recovery Toolkit which is an 8 weeks group programme for young people aged 12-18 who have experienced domestic abuse. This group explores domestic abuse and healthy relationships, and aims to increase safety and support young people to develop positive lifestyle and coping strategies.

Does Safe AS go to people or do they have to travel somewhere? And is it free to use the service?

Our IDVAs are outreach workers and therefore will travel within the community to provide support to the children and young people referred to us. We often provide support at the family home (where safe to do so) and in schools, however if preferred we can provide support at our office on Moira Terrace.

Our group programmes are held at The Women’s Centre on Moira Terrace and so anyone wishing to access one of these will have to have their own transport/be able to get to and from there as unfortunately we cannot provide transport.

Thanks Rachael, before we wrap up, what’s the best way for someone to contact you and is there anything you’d like to add that we missed?

People can contact us on – 02920 460566 asking for the Safe AS team. They can also write to us at: Safe AS, Cardiff Women’s Aid, 16 Moira Terrace, Cardiff, CF240EJ.

Safe AS is part of Families First in Cardiff

Other Families First in Cardiff interviews:

Meet Cardiff Against Bullying

Meet SSYF: Young Parent Service In Cardiff

Meet Gofal I Chi: Young Carers Project In Cardiff

Families First In Cardiff

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TheSprout : News and Information for Young People in Cardiff