The additional funding has enabled us to expand this model to two more boroughs, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, as well as one county outside of London. This is a big step forward in getting rid of the postcode lottery that currently exists for survivors, and we continue to call on the government to roll out a Whole Justice Approach nationally.
Advance launched our Whole Justice Approach in November 2019, at an event with Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs (pictured).
Our Whole Justice Approach is aimed at improving the progress of cases through the criminal justice system. The service provides specialist independent domestic violence advisors (IDVAs) to support women survivors through the court process, as their perpetrators are charged. We work in specialist domestic abuse courts. We deliver this through our Impact Project in partnership with our sister organisation Standing Together, the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, the Met and Crown Prosecution Service.
At Advance, we know from our work with women that anxiety around an intimidating and logistic-heavy court process can make some survivors reluctant to come forward. That’s what inspired us to provide dedicated criminal justice IDVAs who are with women every step of the way: before, during and after the court hearings. As well as practical advice and information about the court process, the IDVAs provide emotional support to help women see this difficult process through.
Niki Scordi, Chief Executive of Advance, said:
“We know from our extensive work with women and the judicial system that specialist domestic abuse courts are the most effective way for these cases to be processed.
“Sadly, these courts, and the expertise within them, are only available in a few areas of the country. We cannot let justice be the privilege of a select few: it is every survivor’s right to be heard by a court with the knowledge necessary to consider domestic abuse cases.”
The project has been funded by the Tampon Tax initiative, in which £15m of the money raised by tax on sanitary products each year has been spent on charities helping women.
Christina*, a survivor who was supported by Advance said:
“My Advance case worker was my strength. When you’re feeling your lowest and you’re just broken, to have someone come along who you know feels what you’re going through and who you can talk to without feeling judged – it’s game-changing.”
*Not her real name