July 4-8 marks National Co-Production Week 2022. The campaign celebrates the benefits of co-production and involves working in partnership with people and communities to develop better public services that offer people real choice and control.
In line with Co-Production week, there is a variety of ways victims and survivors of domestic abuse can get involved to give their views and participate in a Voices of Lived Experience Board; to inform local decision-making forums and help improve the delivery of domestic abuse services in Sussex.
We explore the Voices of Lived Experience Board, and the organisation behind it – the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Partnership Board – and how the work they are doing is making a huge difference across East Sussex.
What is the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Partnership Board?
The Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Partnership Board was established following the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 requires all local authorities to appoint and consult with a local Domestic Abuse Board when it comes to making decisions about tackling domestic abuse and responding to the needs of Victims and Survivors.
The Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Board takes a multi-agency approach to deliver improvements for victims, survivors, and witnesses of domestic abuse as they enter, travel through, and exit services in Sussex.
The board is made up of people from key agencies in Sussex such as each Local Authority, the Police, Health and Social Care Services, Housing Providers, Domestic Abuse Services, and the Voluntary Sector. All agencies play a crucial role in ensuring the ‘victim and survivor voice’ is at the centre of service delivery. The representation of people with lived experience of domestic abuse is essential in ensuring authentic voices are heard.
What is the Voices of Lived Experience Board, and who is it made up of?
The Voices of Lived Experience Board is currently being developed and co-produced with its members, to work in partnership with the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Partnership Board.
The Board is made up of members who have lived experience of domestic abuse as a victim, non-abusing partner, survivor, or witness. While not everybody identifies as a Victim/Survivor, this term is used within legislation to create common language and understanding.
How Members are involved
Members of the Board use their experience and expertise to give their views to the local decision-making forums such as the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Board. The Voices of Lived Experience Board has a flexible approach and recognises that people’s availability to contribute their time and commitment will vary.
People may choose to be involved in a variety of ways, depending on what suits them best. This might be attending an online meeting with other members of the Board, to raise issues which are important to them or hear updates from the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Partnership Board, or it could be to provide their views on a one-to-one basis. Other Members might prefer to be kept informed and provide their own feedback solely via email communication.
There are projects where the voices of those with lived experience contribute to evaluating and improving service response. People can choose to participate regularly or just as a one off on topics which are important to them.
All Members of the Board volunteer their time, but there are opportunities for them to receive payments to reimburse their time and expenses for some participation projects.
Growing and diversifying
The Voices of Lived Experience Board endeavours to increase the number and diversity of people participating, so that all demographics of Victim and Survivor voices are heard. This will ensure that commissioners and providers of services continue to improve responses to all those experiencing the impact of domestic abuse.
Making a difference
While finding out more about the Voices of Lived Experience Board, we spoke to Sarah Flagg, Community Development Officer in Domestic Abuse across Pan-Sussex, about her role and why Boards such as the Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Partnership Board and Voices of Lived Experience Board make a difference.
“My role involves building relationships with people and communities across the whole of Sussex, in order to raise awareness of the Voices of Lived Experienced Board and increase the number and diversity of people participating.
“The Voices of Lived Experienced Board is being co-produced with Victims and Survivors and I support people to participate in a variety of ways that suit them. I work to facilitate collaborative and safe spaces where people can express their views and hear updates about the work that the key agencies are doing in tackling domestic abuse and responding to victim and survivors.
“Some great progress has already been made by local communities and organisations in developing co-production across Sussex. My role as Community Development Officer in Domestic Abuse enables me to work to further close the gaps between strategic decision makers and those who have experienced domestic abuse and consequently accessed services.
“There will be plenty of people who are Victims and Survivors of abuse who haven’t accessed services but will still have a lot to contribute in terms of sharing their views. It is crucial that authentic and diverse voices of those who have experienced domestic abuse have opportunities to make a real difference to how services are run and improve the lives of those affected by domestic abuse.
“The Pan-Sussex Domestic Abuse Partnership Board welcomes and promotes the voices of those from the Voices of Lived Experienced Board as decisions are made in line with the strategic actions plans across Sussex, which prioritise preventing domestic abuse, improving service provision, pursuing perpetrators, and working in partnership.
“As well as supporting the development of the Voices of Lived Experienced Board I also support Victims and Survivors taking part in specific projects which are designed to evaluate processes and services in order to improve service provision; lived experience participation is the pivotal channel to making improvements across Sussex. I really value the importance of engaging with people to make a positive difference.”
From a Member of the Voices of Lived Experience Board
“After years of being in an abusive relationship, I love that I am finally made to feel welcome somewhere. I get to meet people who understand what I have been through, and we all support each other. Most importantly, though, I finally get my voice back. I am no longer silenced.
“Taking part in the Voices of Lived Experience Board, for me, is about helping people like myself to find their voice again, to help others understand what led us there, and to raise awareness of what support is available.
The Board is very close to my heart, and I feel that it is important that people’s voices are heard. We all have different experiences in life and to understand each other, we need to listen and learn from each other. This is a really important part of that process.
“It means a lot to me to be part of the Voices of Lived Experience Board, I like being able to put my opinions and suggestions forward in a safe environment to potentially help other people and children experiencing domestic violence.
“I would say to anyone considering joining to do it; it gives you so much power back over an experience that took our power and voices away.”
How to get involved in the Voices of Lived Experience Board
If you would like to be involved in the Voices of Lived Experience Board or simply find out more, please contact Sarah Flagg, Community Development Officer in Domestic Abuse. email@example.com
Support for domestic abuse
If there is an immediate risk to someone’s safety, please call 999.
If you have been affected by domestic abuse or violence, there are various local support services that can help:
East Sussex Domestic Abuse Service
If you are 16+ and have been affected by domestic abuse or violence in East Sussex, get in touch with Change, Grow, Live East Sussex Domestic (CGL) Abuse Service to find out more about the help, advice, and support available.
Refuge from domestic abuse
If you need to flee domestic abuse, please call the free 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
If you are seeking refuge in East Sussex, you can email Clarion Housing who provide safe refuge accommodation for victims and children fleeing domestic abuse across East Sussex.
Please email Clarion at firstname.lastname@example.org and include a safe contact number or email address and the best time to contact you and a member of the refuge team will call you back.
Rape and sexual violence
The Survivors Network provide the specialist rape and sexual violence abuse service for Sussex. You can contact them via their website or call them on 01273 203 380.
Stalking and harassment
The specialist stalking advocacy services for Sussex is provided by Veritas Justice. You can contact them via that website or call them 01273 234 773.
You can also visit Safe Space Sussex if you have been affected by any crime. It provides an online directory of local victim and witness specialist support services. It also has information about what happens at each stage of the criminal justice system. This helps to ‘demystify’ the process for people when they may be at their most vulnerable.