I am often taken aback by Penny Appeal’s achievements around the world and here in the UK. As CEO, I find myself time and again in awe of the sheer drive and extensive experience of everyone involved in the charity’s work. I feel such immense pride for our dedicated team, who consistently take Penny Appeal from strength to strength, nurturing life-saving programmes to bring about real change in the world.
I am honoured to announce that Penny Appeal has launched a Domestic Abuse Helpline to tackle the issue of domestic abuse in the UK. Domestic abuse is an issue that so many of us care very deeply about, and it is, therefore, an area of key priority in Penny Appeal’s official 2016-2019 strategy. We are absolutely committed to improving early intervention and the prevention of abusive relationships. This means working proactively to stop domestic abuse from happening in the first place. Where this cannot be achieved, it means finding the earliest possible manageable intervention points and effectively protecting victims and their children.
It truly saddens me to know that approximately 1.9 million cases of domestic abuse were reported last year alone. We are all too aware that domestic abuse is critically under-reported, meaning that the real figure is tragically much higher. Penny Appeal has decided that enough is enough, and we will be tackling this issue head-on.
It is with great pride that I announce that our freephone helpline, email, and web-chat services are now live. Our helpline will operate nationally and serve both male and female victims and survivors of domestic abuse, aged 18 and over. This innovative service will work hand-in-hand with our existing counselling services in London and Wakefield, as well as our incredible outreach services in Birmingham.
Our active listening support service is both confidential and non-judgmental to victims and survivors of all forms of domestic abuse. Our freephone helpline won’t cost a penny and it won’t show up on any phone bills, which provides an added layer of confidentiality and privacy. Those who call can talk to our helpline practitioners for as long as they feel they need to. The helpline practitioners will listen to and support the caller through their emotions. They will work hard to empower and help the caller to take the necessary course of action, giving them an open forum in which to discuss their concerns and worries. We are here for victims and survivors, no matter the severity of the situation, and can signpost specialist organisations that can further assist with specific issues or concerns.
We understand that in some situations, tailored advice and support alone is not enough. This is why we also offer telephone counselling for victims and survivors of domestic abuse, with qualified counsellors. Referrals will be taken over the phone or via e-mail, and callers will have an initial assessment and be offered ten counselling sessions. For those living in Wakefield or London, we will be able to arrange face-to-face counselling sessions where required.
In addition to these incredible services, the helpline will uniquely cater to Muslims in a way that no other helpline can, a first for our community! We take the traditional helpline a step further by providing tailored Islamic guidance from a qualified Islamic counsellor, via email or telephone appointment. Our faith teaches us that the safety and support of victims and survivors of domestic abuse is of the utmost importance and that they should never be forced to face any stigma or negativity as a result of their experiences. We are encouraged to help them to find solace and the strength to rebuild their lives, and look towards a brighter future. I am proud to say that it upon these guiding principles and ideas that our helpline is founded.
At Penny Appeal, we provide life-saving support to people living in poverty across the globe. We work hard to help communities build long-term, sustainable routes out of poverty. But we also believe that charity at home is paramount, and for every project we implement abroad, we have a sister project in the United Kingdom. For us, charity begins at home. At Penny Appeal, we believe that we have a responsibility to do good for others and to provide those in need with the support they need to build a brighter future for themselves. I am so proud to be part of this wonderful team, and the journey we are embarking on together.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, rather a strength and our helpline staff are trained to guide the caller through their emotions, signposting them to where they can get further help and empowering them to take the steps necessary to end the vicious cycle of abuse. Our helpline serves both male and female survivors of domestic abuse, aged 18 and over nationwide and operates 7-days a week from 10am to 10pm via 0808 802 3333