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The Evolution of Training


I began working with The Elm Foundation in April 2019 after working as a Speech and Language Therapist for over 10 years. Initially my role was to deliver Domestic Abuse training to health professionals in and around Chesterfield. A growing number of clinicians and allied health professionals were attending regular training dates. Then March 2020 hit, and everything changed.


Covid-19 & National Lockdowns


The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating for so many of us in many different ways. My ability to do my job was initially hugely affected. All face-to-face training ceased. Health professionals were (appropriately) redirected to managing this awful virus and training around domestic abuse was no longer an immediate priority.


More importantly, what was becoming obvious was the devastating impact the national lockdown was having on victims of domestic abuse. With many avenues of support shut down, victims and survivors were left with nowhere to turn and faced prolonged periods at home with their abusers. Literally locked in and with no escape, we saw a huge surge in people contacting national domestic abuse helplines and our own helpline in Derbyshire. Sadly, we also saw a sharp rise in the number of domestic homicides across the country.


The Elm Foundation, along with our colleagues in domestic abuse support services across the county and nationwide, have continued to offer a lifeline of support for victims and survivors. Our workers continue to support our service users through phone calls, emails and when safe to do so, through video calls. We have been able to offer refuge for the most at-risk victims, providing them and their children a place of safety. Although working differently we continue to be committed to supporting victims in what have been the darkest, and for many, the most dangerous of times.


Raised Awareness


One positive thing that the pandemic has done, is create an increased awareness of domestic abuse, in a way that we probably haven’t seen before. News reporters were covering multiple domestic homicides and providing much needed information about domestic support services. More people were aware of domestic abuse and were talking about it.


We had to evolve with the new way of working and find other ways to delivery our training. Utilising Zoom and MS Teams enabled me to deliver training online.

We have widened the reach of the training so that anyone can attend, and because training was being delivered online it meant that many people from numerous backgrounds and professions, along with volunteers, have been able to access it. The interest has been incredible.


I have now delivered domestic abuse awareness training to hundreds of people online, including professionals from local and national health & beauty businesses, nursing students, professionals from social care and a wide range of health professionals from GP’s to mental health practitioners, and health visitors.


Now because of the training, many more people have a better understanding of what constitutes domestic abuse (it’s not just physical!). They are equipped to spot the warning signs that someone may be a victim and have learnt about safe, sensitive ways to ask about domestic abuse. Attendees now have the skills to sign post and support victims to access our services and begin the road to safety.


We have also delivered training around specific topics, including hidden victims of abuse and the impacts of technology in enabling domestic abuse. These sessions have helped expand peoples understanding of how abuse may impact older victims, male victims, people from black and minoritized groups, and those who are from the LGB and Trans communities. Those who have attended training now know how to signpost victims appropriately to the right support and to help victims and survivors towards safety.


What’s Next?


The feedback we have received about the training has been fantastic and the online sessions on average, receive at least a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. Participants have described the training as “informative”, “excellent” and “engaging”.

After the success of the summer 2021 online training program and the feedback about the sessions received, we have now developed a range of training packages that are all available to access online. Each session is fully accredited by the CPD accreditation service, which means those that attend a training session will earn CPD points for their professional portfolio.


We now offer 2 FREE courses:

  • “An Introduction to Domestic Abuse” that anyone can attend.

  • “Domestic Abuse Training for Health Professionals” so that health (and social care) professionals can support victims within their settings.

Additionally, we now have developed several topic specific courses.

  • Domestic Abuse and Technology

  • Male Victims of Domestic Abuse

  • Domestic abuse and Older Victims

  • Domestic Abuse and people who identify as LGBTQ+

  • Domestic abuse and minoritized groups (BAME)

All of these sessions can be booked through Eventbrite, they are delivered through zoom and are available to book on our website training page.


We can also offer bespoke training both face to face (Covid dependent) and online. Email helen.onion@theelmfoundation.org.uk to find out more!


New Way of Working


While the pandemic continues to rumble on, but with maybe glimpses of an end in sight; the prospect of delivering face to face training continues to be a challenge. We must all balance working practices with safety and the ever-changing covid conditions. The advantage of technology means The Elm Foundation can continue to offer this invaluable training regardless of the covid situation.


Although some interactivity is lost through online training, there are many additional benefits. Participants can log on and join the sessions anywhere, making the training easily accessible and it has less impact on the working day because travel time to and from a training venue has been removed. We are offering some face-to-face training again when it is safe to do so, however, online training is definitely here to stay.


We all have a responsibility to keep people safe. Domestic abuse is a hidden crime, and abusers rely on keeping abuse hidden. If we all understand what domestic abuse is, what it looks like and how to help victims; we make abuse visible and that makes it easier to stop! Hopefully the training we offer at The Elm Foundation is helping to dispel the stigma around domestic abuse and provides people with the skills to reach out and help victims access the support they need to be safe. Everyone has the right to live in freedom and without fear!