The Bridges Partnership supports women and children across Glasgow affected by domestic violence and abuse. Established in 2016, the partnership was formed between Aberlour Children’s Charity and Shelter Scotland to provide holistic support for women and their children and to keep them safe.
Taking a gendered and rights-based approach, the service supports women and their children in crisis, many who have fled the family home, to access safe and affordable housing. At the same time, the service provides intensive, one-to-one emotional, practical and therapeutic support. Many of the women and their children that the service supports are in financial crisis and have no access to money, often as a result of financial control and abuse by their partner. The service works with around 125 women and children across the city every year.
A key aspect of The Bridges Partnership is that it works with all women survivors. It is unique in Glasgow as it offers in-home support to women who are still living with or maintaining a relationship with the perpetrator of the abuse, as well as those who have left the abusive relationship. Not all domestic abuse support services will offer such support to women still in a relationship with a perpetrator, and not every woman is ready to leave their relationship. Before the Bridges Partnership was set up there was no provision of support for women living in such circumstances in Glasgow. Other agencies the service works alongside have highlighted:
‘This is really important – If the perpetrator was still in and around the home, Bridges would still work with the mother and children which we know other services don’t do.’ Glasgow Social Worker
The service aims to advocate for women in these situations, supporting them to risk assess, safety plan and ultimately working to empower them so they feel capable and confident to leave their abusive relationship and to be able to access safe, alternative housing where necessary. Children and family workers also advocate on behalf of women with other agencies, making sure they understand and are understood by other professionals.
The service is currently funded through the Scottish Government’s Delivering Equally Safe Fund until 2023. The work of this unique partnership has helped to overcome the multiple barriers which often exist for women and their children affected by domestic abuse to getting the right help and support. Throughout the pandemic the experience and knowledge of the service’s children and family workers has been vital in responding to the significant rise in domestic abuse reporting, where, as a result of lockdowns, women did not have the option to flee the family home, even if they wanted to.
Social work statistics in Glasgow show that domestic abuse is the second most common reason for referral to social work services. Therefore, the service aims to develop and expand the service further to support more families affected by domestic abuse. A key area of concern is the increasing number of families supported by the service experiencing extreme financial crisis. Many families need additional financial support from Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund which provides small grants to cover the cost of basic and essential items, such as food, children’s clothing or to help pay bills.
The service has also found that women with protected characteristics often face additional barriers to getting help and support. The Bridges Partnership has been working to make sure no families are disadvantaged from accessing the help and support they need. The service aims to better understand intersectional issues ensuring access and better support for women with disabilities, LGBTI+ women and BME women.
We are always looking for funding to support this important work. If you are able to, please donate to Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund which provides cash grants to families in desperate financial hardship – a large proportion of these families are facing domestic abuse. https://www.aberlour.org.uk/service_category/urgent-assistance-fund/