Larkswood ward Councillor Catherine Saumarez discusses her work on domestic abuse
“Perhaps it’s because I’m a teacher that the issue of domestic violence has always been important to me. So many young lives and life chances are blighted by violence within the home. So when I was offered the chance to work on a special in-depth focus group looking at this problem over the course of a year, it was a welcome opportunity to really tackle the issue.
My small, cross-party group heard from experts within the fields of economic abuse, health, charity organisations and the Metropolitan Police, as well as survivors of abuse. We had some really harrowing and distressing meetings. It is very hard to listen to a woman spelling out how her life was torn apart by violence. But it made us more determined to see what positive change we could bring about.
We have just published our draft recommendations and I’m very proud to note that because of the testimony given by our brave women, the Met will now be researching and drafting recommendations specifically on how to meet the needs of BAME survivors.
We’ll be continuing to train our borough’s GPs on how to spot the signs. And will work with housing associations and trusts, as well as our own officers, on how to train frontline staff in spotting economic abuse. We’ll also be embedding an independent domestic violence advocate within the council to help each department best support women leaving an abusive relationship.
There’s much more to be done, and the work is ongoing. But I feel that the positive steps we’ve made show that even as a councillor in opposition, it’s possible to achieve meaningful changes for the place where you live.”