• Victoria Watts, Alex Gibson and Judith Parkinson

Gentoo's Alex Gibson, Judith Parkinson and DAHA's Vicki Watts are now trained "Ask me" Domestic Violence Ambassadors.

Change that Lasts is a new needs-led initiative developed by Women’s Aid England in partnership with Welsh Women’s Aid aimed at supporting domestic abuse survivors and their children to build resilience to lead an independent life.

Alex Gibson, Trainee Policy and Business Analyst, Judith Parkinson, Customer Service Advisor and Victoria Watts, Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) Development Manager were given the chance to attend a free two day course earlier this year to become 'Ask Me' Ambassadors and raise awareness of domestic abuse and the support available. 

Their training focused on how to listen to those who may confide in them, how to ask the right questions and how and when to refer someone for specialist support.

Change that Lasts is made up of three strands which involve the whole community taking a stand against domestic abuse. It focuses on professionals, specialist domestic violence services and the third strand called “Ask me” aimed at all parts of the community training to be Ambassadors.    

Ambassadors in the local community will wear an “Ask me” badge so people can easily identify them as a trusted confidant they can talk to if they are suffering abuse or if they are worried about someone else and want help and support.

Sunderland was one of three pilot areas and there is a possibility that further training may be offered later in the year due to the success of the scheme to date.

Judith said: “We regularly meet other Ambassadors in the community to share ideas and raise awareness of ‘Change that Lasts’ and the ‘Ask me initiative’. It is vitally important to let everyone know that there is help and support available.”