Lewisham Children & Family Centre

Domestic abuse is defined as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”. Domestic abuse is often thought of as physical, such as hitting, slapping or beating, but it can also be controlling or coercive behaviour. This is important as what might look like an isolated incident of violent abuse could be taking place in a context of controlling or coercive behaviour.

The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Domestic abuse can also include forced marriage and so-called “honour crimes”.

A new set of learning resources for social workers, safeguarding leads, and health and social care practitioners, provides information and guidance on how to recognise and respond to coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate or family relationships. http://coercivecontrol.ripfa.org.uk/

Safe Lives, a national domestic abuse charity, has created a toolkit practitioners and front-line workers can use to identify high risk cases of domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’-based violence. The purpose of the checklist is to give a consistent and simple-to-use tool to practitioners who work with victims of domestic abuse in order to help them identify those who are at high risk of harm and whose cases should be referred to a MARAC meeting in order to manage the risk.

Locally, both the Adult’s and Children’s Safeguarding Board (LSAB / LSCB), as well as the Safer Lewisham Partnership (SLP) have agreed that all agencies in Lewisham working with, or supporting families at risk of domestic violence are expected to use the risk checklist. This is vitally important because using an evidence based risk identification tool increases the likelihood of the victim being responded to appropriately and therefore, of addressing the risks they face. The risk checklist gives practitioners common criteria and a common language of risk.

Safe Lives have produced an updated version of the RIC, which now includes comprehensive guidance explaining each risk question, how they can be asked, as well as practice points. There is also a frequently asked questions page with some useful tips on the checklist. The Safe Lives website has helpful resources about other ways your agency may access support, training or download the checklist in other languages.

The Lewisham Safeguarding Children’s Board also offers annual training on the use of the checklist which is free for all professionals in the borough to attend, however, for more questions about the use of the RIC, access to training, and questions about domestic violence MARAC process, please visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/vawg or contact the Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG) Programme Manager on vawg@lewisham.gov.uk


The Lewisham Domestic Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) is a risk management meeting where professionals share information on high and very high risk cases of domestic violence or abuse and put in place a risk management plan. The aim of the meeting is to address the safety of the victim, children and agency staff and to review and co-ordinate service provision in high risk domestic violence cases.

To be referred to the MARAC the individual must reside in the London Borough of Lewisham, be over the age of 16, be currently experiencing domestic violence or abuse (according to the cross Government definition of domestic violence)[1] and be assessed as being at high or very high risk of harm of domestic violence or abuse in accordance with the Lewisham MARAC referral risk criteria. In order to assess whether a case meets the risk threshold, the Safe Lives DASH MARAC risk indicator checklist should be completed by the referring agency. A tailored action plan will be developed at the MARAC.

Any service agency signed up to the MARAC Information Sharing Protocol may refer a case to the MARAC using the Lewisham MARAC Referral Form, and all agencies should be actively screening for domestic violence or abuse. Referrals should be submitted to each agency’s MARAC representative. Please contact your line manager to find out who your agency’s MARAC representative is.

For more questions about the use of the MARAC, access to training, and questions about the process, please visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/vawg or contact the Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG) Programme Manager on vawg@lewisham.gov.uk , or the MARAC Coordinator on dvmarac@lewisham.gov.uk

For details about the COMMUNITY GROUPS PROGRAMME (CGP), a therapeutic recovery programme for children who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence and abuse, please click below


For referrals to the CGP, please email Lewisham.Secure@eyalliance.org.uk


For further information or to discuss a possible referral to CGP, please contact roz.amat@lewishamcfc.org.uk


The Athena service, run by Refuge, provides confidential, non-judgmental support to those living in the London borough of Lewisham who are experiencing gender-based violence.

Our services support women and girls aged 13 and over, and men aged 16 or over – including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or are unsure of their sexuality. The Athena service also supports transgender clients who identify as male, female, as another gender, or are questioning their gender identity.

What support is available from the Athena service?

Everyone’s needs are unique and we will work with you to create a support plan that helps keep you safe. For example you may need to:
• Talk to someone who understands what you are going through
• Receive support with contacting the police
• Move away from the area
• Access a refuge
• Stay at home but want to find out how you can keep safe
• Receive support if you are considering going to court
• Access legal advice
• Manage your financial situation
• Find out about support networks in your community
• Get specialist support for your children

What services are available from the Athena service?

  • One-to-one confidential, non-judgmental, independent support
    • A specialist independent gender-based violence advocacy (IGVA) team to support you if you are at risk of serious harm
    • A specialist service for 13-19 year-old girls
    • Group support
    • A peer support scheme to help break your isolation; to help build social networks and to support you while you regain control of your life
    • Volunteering opportunities

If you’re in Lewisham, call the Athena Service on 0800 112 4052

or email lewishamvawg@refuge.org.uk


Female genital mutilation (FGM), or female genital cutting, is an unacceptable practice where a girl’s genitalia are removed or cut for cultural reasons.  It is illegal in Britain, and is viewed as child abuse. It can happen to girls of any age, especially those between three and twelve.

What can I do?

  1. Contact the Lewisham MASH on mashagency@lewisham.gov.uk or on 020 8314 6660.
  2. Call the 24 hour NSPCC FGM helpline 0800 028 3550 If you are worried a child is at risk of, or is a victim of, FGM.
  3. Call the Athena Service on 0800 112 4052 or the Africa Advocacy Foundation (AAF) on 0208 698 4473.
  4. If the girl or woman has already been taken abroad, you should phone the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500.
  5. If you have been a victim of FGM you can visit a specialist FGM NHS clinic.

Download FGM Guidance for professionals here

Women and Girls Network (WGN)
WGN is a free, women-only service that supports women in London who have experienced violence, or are at risk of violence.

We offer counselling, advocacy and advice for women and girls who have experienced gendered violence, including sexual and domestic violence.

Our overall aim is to promote, preserve and restore the mental health and well-being of women and girls, to empower them to make a total and sustainable recovery from their experiences of violence.

Advice Line Practical advice and support.

0808 801 0660

Monday-Friday 10.00-16.00

Wednesday 18.00-21.00

Sexual Violence Helpline Emotional support and a safe space to talk.

0808 801 0770


10.00-12.00 &


10.00-13.00 &


10.00-13.00 &


10.00-13.00 &


10.00-12.00 &
14.30 – 16.30

 Contact Us Main Office

020 7610 4678


West London
Rape Crisis Centre

020 8567 7347


How to get a place in a refuge

The Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline helps women find spaces in refuges across the UK. The police and social services can also put you in touch with us.

Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline

The helpline is run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s Aid. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for women experiencing domestic violence. All calls are confidential.

Please call 0808 2000 247 or email helpline@refuge.org.uk.

Other Useful Links:
Resources: http://imkaan.org.uk/resources

MOPAC Domestic and Sexual Violence Dashboard

Home Office Resources for Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG)

Other useful helplines and resources:

Broken Rainbow Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experiencing domestic violence.

Tel: 0300 999 5428

Support for male victims of domestic violence.
Tel: 01823 334 244

National Domestic Violence 24 hour helpline
Tel: 0808 2000 247

National Victim Support
Tel: 0845 303 0900

Bright Sky App

Bright Sky is a free to download app providing support anyone in an abusive relationship, those worried about someone they know, and for practitioners and employers to support their members, clients and service users. 

How can Bright Sky help you, your service users, staff and clients?

  • You can refer to specialist domestic abuse support services nationwide using the app’s national FIND HELPtool. Simply search by current location, area name or postcode to find the closest services and contact them directly via telephone.
  • Support anyone you are concerned about to complete the Am I At Risk? questionnaire to identify potential abuse in a relationship. The Friends and Family At Risk?assessment is there for anyone worried about someone they know.
  • Those in abusive relationships can use the My Journaltool to record information via written text, photos, videos and audio. The content is sent securely to their chosen email address and none of the content is saved on their mobile phone. This has the potential to be used as evidence in a legal proceeding.
  • Users can find resources in the app to help them:
  • Learn about different types of abuse
  • Understand the different avenues of support via videos from an IDVA, refuge, counsellor and police officer
  • Find out how to improve their online safety
  • Read case studies about stalking, harassment and sexual consent and the support available
  • Find advice on safety leaving an abusive relationship, and contact national helplines.

You can promote the app by printing this poster to use in your workplace and emailing us at brightsky@hestia.org to request a pack of business cards, or if you have any questions. We are also happy to send more information which you can use to publicise the app in industry publication, send PowerPoint slides and further resources, and/or arrange for one of our team to attend your annual conference to present about Bright Sky.

At Hestia, we run UK SAYS NO MORE which is a national campaign to raise awareness to end domestic abuse and sexual violence.  The campaign is built upon a network of over 250 partner organisations nationwide, across not-for-profit, corporate, arts, educational organisations, local authorities and parliamentary champions, bringing us together under one united campaign.

If you are interested in your organisation joining the campaign as a partner, or would like more information, please get in touch by emailing us at uksaysnomore@hestia.org and we would be very happy to discuss further.

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