The charity Safe Lives has developed a  course and qualification for people who work with victims of domestic abuse.

SafeLives is a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse. Since 2005, they have found new ways to help victims at risk of murder or serious injury. The charity pioneered the use of the risk checklist, which all police forces now use to assess how much danger a victim is in.

An important part of their work is training domestic violence professionals and they are the home-office endorsed provider of the flagship Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) programme, which leads to an OCN London Level 3 qualification. In addition, they offer bespoke courses for service advisers who deal with domestic violence and sexual violence, provide training for people dealing with stalking and harassment, and training for advisers who work with young people affected by violence.

Previously, there was no specific training or accredited courses for people working in this sector. Jo Morrish, the Learning and Accreditation Programme Manager, explains the situation:

 “You could be a social worker and work with people facing domestic violence issues but there was nothing specific for domestic violence workers. We thought it was time to professionalise our sector. So even though some of our learners have been doing this kind of work for 20 years they think it’s great they can finally get some professional recognition for it. For some it fills gaps in their experience and knowledge, whilst for others new to the work it provides an essential grounding. Taking one of our courses offers a chance for a lot of sharing with peers with much of the training being interactive.”

Training is provided in a mixture of in-room and online learning, with courses varying from one day to 12 days. The courses are accredited by OCN London who has been working with the charity since 2004. Having OCN London support has helped SafeLives to establish itself as the go-to place for this specialist training, with many courses having a waiting list of up to a year.

Jo says they chose OCN London because it’s a recognised brand and the name carries trust.

 “There are a lot of people in our sector who also use OCN so we felt it was sensible to all be with the same one. Working with OCN has been brilliant for us. We find them very responsive and very supportive. Whenever I have questions I can speak to an external verifier very quickly.”

The charity recently developed two new courses - one for high-risk and one for medium-risk victims. They are aimed at those who work with women on a longer term basis, trying to undo harm rather than the emergency work of keeping them alive. They have also worked with OCN London to develop a Level 3 Certificate and a Level 3 Diploma in Domestic Abuse – Prevention and Early Intervention.  The qualifications have been designed to be offered flexibly so that people can study additional units as and when they need to. The purpose is to provide people with the underpinning skills they need to offer safe and effective support when carrying out intervention or providing advice.