Matthew (centre) with some of the team from Reducing the Risk at Domestic Abuse

PCC supports listening and linking initiative for elderly victims of domestic abuse

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Earlier this month, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, met with some of the team at Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse to hear how funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is supporting their work with victim-survivors of domestic abuse.

Reducing the Risk works to increase the safety and wellbeing of adults and children living in Oxfordshire at risk of domestic abuse and to educate and empower the professionals and volunteers that support them.

The charity has several strands to their work including a Domestic Abuse Champions network; a multi-agency approach that links a range of services to improve the accessibility and quality of support for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and an Independent Domestic Violence Advisory (IDVA) service that works with individuals referred through the MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) who are identified as at high risk of significant harm and trauma through abuse. Thanks, in part, to funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner, this service has expanded to include a Court IDVA who works in both Crown and Magistrates Courts helping victims navigate the Criminal Justice System in criminal, civil and family matters.

Another key element to Reducing the Risk’s work is raising awareness of domestic abuse, including in minority communities and marginalised groups.

One such group is elderly people in rural communities. Having identified an increase in the number of referrals of elderly people in rural areas, the charity established the DA Friend initiative to empower people in rural communities to spot the signs of domestic abuse among their friends and neighbours and link victims in to support. The scheme has since been supported by £6000 worth of funding from the PCC’s Community Fund.

Matthew said: “It is always great to catch up with Dawn and the team at Reducing the Risk. The charity does critical work supporting victim-survivors of domestic abuse as well as raising awareness of the prevalence of domestic abuse within our communities.

“I was delighted to support their DA Friends scheme with a £6000 grant from my Community Fund.

“Domestic Abuse is often a hidden crime, more so in rural communities and more so again when the victim is an elderly person so having a network of friends in these more isolated communities that can spot the signs of domestic abuse and know how to safety signpost victims will be extremely valuable in ensuring individuals get the support they need.

“I would encourage anyone living in a rural community in Oxfordshire to lend their support to the scheme and sign up to be a DA friend. No formal training is required and you could help someone onto a path of living free from abuse.”

Dawn Hodson, Chief Executive of Reducing the Risk, said: “The Domestic Abuse Friends project has been more successful than we could have ever hoped. It’s been going 10 months and in that time we have spoken with over 170 community groups and have almost 300 new Domestic Abuse Friends. 

“These community members are now better able to listen to and link anyone living with domestic abuse to help and have posters and cards to raise awareness in their local communities.”

If you live, work or attend a community group in Oxfordshire and want to find out more about how you can become a DA friend, please email