Safe Places in Ballyclare

1 November, 2010

Women’s Aid, supported by the Newtownabbey Community Safety Partnership, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Newtownabbey Borough Council, local businesses, Victim Support and Childline are launching a new initiative to raise awareness of services available for anyone experiencing domestic abuse. 
Ballyclare will become the first town in Northern Ireland to have ‘Safe Places’ where victims can access information on services for domestic abuse. Local businesses will display the ‘Safe Place’ logo, which will indicate they have information within their premises. 
safe place photo
Alderman Paula Bradley, Mayor of Newtownabbey and local businesswoman, is fully supportive of the initiative. 
‘We are committed to letting every resident of Newtownabbey know that no-one has to live in an abusive relationship. Newtownabbey Borough Council takes domestic violence very seriously – we have a workplace policy to support employees – and we want to extend that support to everyone in the community. Council premises will be part of the ‘Safe Place’ scheme and will provide information to anyone who wants it. The Newtownabbey Community Safety Partnership is to be commended for its role in raising awareness of this issue locally through its work with Women’s Aid.’
Newtownabbey Area Commander Chief Inspector Paula Hilman will also launch the joint protocol which has been recently devised between the local Women’s Aid and officers in D District. The protocol recognises how support for victims can be enhanced through a joint approach between both organisations. 
“It is encouraging to see there has been a 9.4% decrease in domestic incidents in the last year within the district. However, the number of domestic abuse incidents is too high. We need to continue to tackle this issue, by working with partner agencies and the continued support of the public.”
Lindsay Whitcroft, Policy Worker with Women’s Aid, explains the rationale behind the scheme:
‘We often work with people who have told us “I wish I’d known about your services before now”. They may be aware of the refuge, but do not know of all the other services that are available – one to one crisis support, group work, education and prevention work, awareness raising campaigns or our work with children for example. We also work with women whether they are with their partner or not – if they are still in an abusive relationship our focus is on keeping them and their children safe’ 
Local shop owners, Lorraine McConnell, Joli Clothing and Niall McConkey, Woodsides are just two of the Ballyclare businesses to be a ‘Safe Place’, they agreed:
‘It’s shocking to think that an estimated 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime, and bearing this statistic in mind, we know that many businesses, including ours, may have victims of domestic abuse in their premises daily. Everyone can do something to raise awareness on domestic violence, and the support available for victims, and we are happy to do our bit.’
1. Women’s Aid (Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCLN) is an organisation which provides support, information, advice and where necessary accommodation, for women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence.
2. Newtownabbey Community Safety Partnership identified domestic violence as one of key priorities to be addressed in its action plan and part funds the Women’s Aid Policy Development Worker post.
3. The 24-Hour Free-phone Domestic Violence Helpline 0800 917 1414 is available to all victims of domestic violence.  
4. For further details on Safe Place, please ring Lindsay Whitcroft on
028 2563 2136 or 07599 311 355
5. The ‘Safe Place’ resources will be launched in Six Mile Leisure Centre, Ballyclare on Thursday 28th October, at 2.00pm. Phone numbers for Women’s Aid, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Victim Support and Childline will be on the ‘Safe Place’ card. Any businesses interested in learning more about becoming a ‘Safe Place’ can obtain information by contacting Lindsay Whitcroft on 028 2563 2136. 
6. Incidents of Domestic Abuse across D District
·        1076 – in 2009/10 – 1,076 incidents between April - June
·        975 – in 2010/11 – 975 incidents between April - June
·        9.4% decrease in figures across D District
Source: (Police Service of Northern Ireland quarterly domestic abuse incidents and crime statistics April to June 2010/11)