BIG project awarded nearly £500,000 Big Lottery Funding

The BIG Project has been awarded £490,610 to continue the amazing work it has been delivering, working with men who behave abusively to get them to change their ways, reducing domestic violence occurrences in the region.

Lead by charity Impact Family Services, based in Sunderland, the project is the result of an innovative partnership between them and Barnardos, Wearside Women in Need and housing provider Gentoo.

In just the last 6 months, more than 70 men and their families in the area have benefited from the BIG Domestic Abuse Perpetrators Project.

Christopher Gladstone from Sunderland was a perpetrator of domestic violence and has changed his approach to violence since taking part in the programme. He said on hearing about the continuation of the project: “You couldn’t buy the experience, or the importance of what we have been taught in the programme.”. Paul Wilkinson who is also from Sunderland and agreed with Christopher, adding that it has been “life changing”.

The project assists men who are over 18 in realising they have choices to make through early intervention.

On referral their suitability is assessed, focusing on their motivation to change and acknowledgement of their responsibility for their violent and abusive behaviour. Their partners or ex-partners are also offered outreach support by Wearside Women in Need, helping make women victims and their children feel safer, ensuring the whole family is supported through this time of need.

The programme uses cognitive behavioural and pre-social concepts with the men who, if assessed as suitable, are required to attend a 26-week course.

Previously the project was funded by the Police Innovation Fund and was originally formed as there was no voluntary perpetrator programmes places in Sunderland, yet the police reported the highest number of reported incidents in the force area after Newcastle.  Very often men only get help to change once they have entered the criminal justice system (been arrested and appeared in court).

Hazel Hedley, CEO of Impact Family Services, said:“ Everyone who has been involved in the BIG project has worked hard to get it to be the success it has been. Winning this bid for nearly £500,000 will mean that the project now has a further lifetime of at least five years, and within that time scale we can reach out to help many more families.”

Rod Weston Bartholomew, assistant director of children services at Barnardos said:

“BIG encapsulates innovation, drive and ambition.  It was conceived as a service that could wraparound a family to target the core issues related to domestic abuse.  The work of the project has gone from strength to strength, it now supports men to change their behaviour and families the abilities to progress by offering support and a range of resources.  The Big Lottery funding will help BIG grow and for more families access to this vital service.”

Gentoo provide wrap around support for all it’s customers to ensure they are given the best opportunity to access projects that help the family have a happy and safe future. 

Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director (Operations) Gentoo said: “This funding will make a huge difference to victims of domestic violence. As a housing association our front-line staff are ideally placed to spot the signs of domestic abuse in our homes and protecting victims and their families is a big priority for us. The BIG Project has really helped us to further protect victims of domestic abuse, engaging the perpetrator in a programme that has supported them in making important changes to their behaviour. This funding will allow us to expand our service within the community, helping more and more people to feel safer.”