Story 18 - Blog

Yvette’s Story

Yvette is the Strategic and Development Lead for Domestic Abuse at Look Ahead, she oversees several services supporting women and families with experience of domestic abuse in Kent.  

I’ve worked in domestic abuse support for 25 years, more than ten of which have been at Look Ahead. I first joined in 2012 as a support worker at one of our women’s refuge services, before being promoted to team leader and then contract manager.  

It has been great to see how our domestic abuse support offer has grown, over the years. Since I joined, we have won new contracts. We’ve now become the lead provider in West Kent as part of the Kent Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (KIDAS) in partnership with Kent County Council, Clarion, Oasis Domestic Abuse Service and Victim Support. We took over a second refuge as well and opened a brand new one in 2018. Then we added Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA) to the service offer the following year.  

It was the Covid pandemic however, that brought about some of the biggest changes to the way our team supports people. The pandemic saw domestic abuse rise massively in the UK, and naturally, we had to adapt to respond to the increased need in a variety of ways. 

I took on my current role and became a strategic lead at that time. I started overseeing a variety of engagement with other local services and the wider community around domestic abuse, as well as our refuges, IDVA and the Victim Link Service – funded by the police and crime commissioner. 

Our engagement with other services has been going really well. We offer domestic abuse support-related training sessions to local services such as the police and the NHS. We’ve got two IDVA’s in the community.  One placed regularly at the local hospital to work with staff and patients and the other with the police where she works from their station, but also goes out with the officers where necessary to support survivors with their cases.  

We run a one stop too, so survivors can drop in for advice around domestic abuse, housing, legal advice, and benefits – some of this information is also available online. 

We have extended our work to the digital sphere in other ways as well. During the pandemic, KIDAS hosted an information and advice conference which attracted over 10,000 attendees. Then there’s our Cyber Clinic too –which was the first one in the country to my knowledge – where we help people to keep safe from stalking and being tracked online, by checking their computers, tablets and mobile devices for spyware and removing any that we find. 

Our next big project is to set up a virtual café for survivors to gather, socialise, enjoy activities, improve their wellbeing and self-esteem, and feel like part of a community again. I’m so proud of my team and how they have managed to support people and families in so many different ways. 

Our work cuts across all of Look Ahead’s specialisms, and it’s been fantastic to see how fully the organisation acknowledges this. We are proud for instance that Look Ahead have signed the employers’ domestic abuse covenant – a pledge by businesses to support women affected by abuse to enter or re-enter the workplace.  

It’s been a privilege so far, and I’m looking forward to supporting more people and growing our services in future.