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Borough unites to show support to victims of abuse
Thursday 22nd November, 2012

Victims of domestic abuse are being urged to seek help this Christmas amid fears that incidents could soar over the festive period.

Partnership agencies across Wigan and Greater Manchester are gearing themselves up for a surge in calls to help lines and services during a time associated with a rise in domestic abuse.

End the Fear is a joint campaign which brings together Greater Manchester Police, the NHS, local authorities across Greater Manchester and many third sector organisations and charities who work with victims, families and perpetrators.

The campaign is rolled out at certain times of the year to address anticipated spikes in incidents, typically when increased tensions between partners and families lead to a rise in the number and severity of incidents.

As part of this year’s awareness-raising campaign, Wigan Council is holding a candle-lit vigil in both Leigh and Wigan town centres in recognition of victims of domestic abuse and to demonstrate our shared solidarity with them. The event, on Thursday 6th December at 5.00pm, will bring together people from all walks of life who want to End the Fear for victims and their children this Christmas.

The vigil will be supported by a hard-hitting poster campaign urging victims to contact services. One poster features four candles with one of the candles snuffed out – a representation of the 1 in 4 women who will become a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime.

The vigil is being held during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an international campaign which was started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) in 1991.

The 16 Days runs from November 25th, International Day Against Violence Against Women to December 10th, International Human Rights Day, symbolically linking link violence against women and human rights; and to emphasise that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including World AIDS Day on 1st December.

In light of this increased risk to victims over the festive period, the multi-agency Domestic Abuse team will ensure police officers are available to attend incidents over Christmas and New Year, bolstering efforts around enforcement and making referrals to ensure victims and families are safe.

A specialist domestic violence officer will be working alongside officers and other partners to provide advice and support and to ensure efficient sharing of information between agencies, for instance with council Child Protection officers and Accident and Emergency.

Cllr Kevin Anderson, cabinet champion for safer neighbourhoods says: "Emotions can run high at this time of the year, leading to a pressure cooker atmosphere in some homes. And of course alcohol is a significant factor in many cases of domestic abuse.

"In Wigan Borough, we work in partnership to ensure that all agencies are doing as much as possible to protect victims and families who are at highest risk. Through our work we will continue to help victims to either leave abusive relationships, live more safely within relationships or support the prosecution and rehabilitation of offenders."

Detective Inspector Michael Montford of Greater Manchester Police Public Protection Division adds: "There are now five full-time independent domestic abuse advocates who provide support to victims, as well as a specialist domestic abuse court which can fast-track cases.

“Officers will attend those households where there is a known history of domestic abuse, to check on the safety and welfare of victims. They will also ensure any bail conditions or curfews are being complied with, and provide information on support for both victims and offenders.”

Dr Kate Ardern, Wigan Borough’s Director of Public Health, adds:
“In Wigan borough, we have a culture where domestic abuse is often casually dismissed in some communities as ‘something that just happens’ and we need to address this.

“We don’t want to break families up. If you seek help - either as a victim, an offender or a child - agencies across the partnership will do everything they can to support the whole family. We want to halt the abuse and prevent it from passing on through future generations.”

For more information about the services available to help stop domestic abuse, visit www.endthefear.co.uk or call the Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525.

Those responsible for abuse can also get help by contacting the Respect Phoneline on 0845 122 8609.

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