The Unseen, a report we commissioned in October 2022, which was researched and compiled by the charity SafeLives, was the first ever research into the shocking scale and nature of domestic abuse among blind and partially sighted people. Following on from The Unseen being published, we called for a multi-faceted and united response to the abuse experienced by some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and we’ve invested just under £200,000 in projects designed to tackle it.
Recommendations for the sector and society:
We must develop best practice. Guidance is needed around working with victims and survivors with a visual impairment, including toolkits for practitioners, and clear referral pathways.
We must train domestic abuse practitioners and sight loss professionals on the specific needs of visually impaired victims and survivors, on risk factors, safety planning, identifying abuse and referral pathways.
We must ensure that all domestic abuse information, services and premises are accessible to those with visual impairments. Professionals should create opportunities to see individuals one-to-one and without a carer, and create safe spaces in which to enquire about domestic abuse and their safety.
We must engage with the community to build trust and raise awareness of domestic abuse, including the development of a visual impairment survivors’ network where survivors can share their experiences and help to shape future research, learning and actions taking place.
We must disseminate this and future research in order to achieve improvements in policy, practice and awareness in order to address the harm of domestic abuse in the sight loss community.
We must ensure that funds are available for organisations to be able to implement changes and meet urgent need.
The projects we’re funding to tackle domestic violence and abuse:
Below you’ll find a summary of our recently approved domestic violence-related grants. We’re proud to be supporting these worthwhile and impactful projects and know this is just the start of the work we plan to do to tackle this issue.
Beacon Centre For The Blind
The project will transform the support offered to visually impaired people who are victims or survivors of domestic abuse.
It involves developing an Accessible Support Network, which will be led by West Midlands sight loss charity, the Beacon Centre, in partnership with local community housing provider and domestic abuse specialist CHADD.
This specialised network will be developed to:
- Remove the barriers caused by sight loss in accessing help.
- Improve the support offered to current victims and survivors.
- Give more people the confidence to access help in future.
Extant will create an audio drama about how domestic violence uniquely affects the VI community.
The drama will be based on the themes and findings from The Unseen Report and consultation in partnership with Refuge, the largest domestic abuse organisation in the UK.
PEGS (Parental Education Growth Support) is a charity that has been set up to support both parents and professionals deal with the issues associated with child to parent abuse.
Their project will research the most appropriate platforms to promote awareness of Child to Parent Abuse (CPA), in order to better support blind and partially sighted parents who are experiencing Child to Parent Abuse across England and Wales.
Refuge’s proposed project is threefold:
1) Upskilling Refuge’s and Respect’s staff with specialist training co-created with sight loss organisation BlindAid.
2) Creating ongoing resources for our accommodation-based staff, co-created with sight loss organisation BlindAid.
3) Providing reciprocal training on domestic abuse to specialist sight loss organisation BlindAid.
This RNIB project will partner with and draw upon the expertise and knowledge of the domestic violence and abuse charity, SafeLives.
It will support blind and partially sighted adults across the UK, by increasing their knowledge and awareness of domestic abuse and their routes to available support.
Further, it will increase understanding of DVA among sight loss accredited counsellors, enabling them to provide more effective support to their visually impaired clients.
This will be delivered through two strands:
- A DVA awareness campaign on RNIB Connect Radio.
- DVA Training development for counsellors.
Funding from the Vision Foundation will enable SafeLives – in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and those with lived experience – to turn recommendations from The Unseen report into practice.
This project seeks to improve the capability and confidence of domestic abuse professionals and other relevant services, to:
a) respond to the specific needs of visually impaired domestic abuse victims and survivors,
b) remove barriers to accessing support.
Time and Talents
This funding has been awarded to a London-based community centre where everyone feels part of a community – and where nobody feels lonely or left behind.
The project will equip staff and volunteers with training, so they can spot the signs of abuse early and support service users to access relevant local DVA support.
Sight for Surrey
Sight for Surrey support people across Surrey who are blind, vision impaired, deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing, delivering specialist, hands-on, practical services tailored to their community’s needs.
This project will be to train 15 staff on DV and policy development.