I’ve just taken over as Chair of the East Lothian Violence Against Women Forum. The connection between domestic abuse and issues relating to child protection is very significant at the moment with over 90% of child protection referrals having some reference to domestic abuse in the home.
Such a statistic made it comparatively easy for me to see this work as an important aspect of my responsibilities – althought here are some who see this to be an adult services issue, as opposed to something which lies under my auspices as Director of Education and Children’s Services. I suppose I would counter that we need to see the world in a much more inter-connected manner, rather than trying to categorise issues as resting with a single service or organisation.
My second reason for accepting the invitation to Chair the group is more personal. I was brought up in the family home which doubled as my father’s surgery – he was a general practitioner. At regular intervals throughout my childhood my mother and father would bring women and their children into our home to afford protection against the woman’s partner. I vividly remember one occasion when a hysterical woman turned up at our door on a Sunday morning with her children. She had a badly bruised face and torn clothing. My mother took her in – my dad was out on calls – when her partner arrived. He tried to push his way past my mother to get to his wife but he hadn’t come up against anyone like my mum. Who blocked the door with her foot and kept calm while she told me to phone the police. I think I was 9 or 10 at the time. They eventually arrived and took him away but the incident is indelibly etched on my memory: the fear in the woman’s eyes; the man’s anger and rage; my mother’s resolute refusal to give in to him; and, the fact that this was something that needed the police.
If I can help in a small way to highlight this issue and to use my role to good effect then it will be a part of my job that will give me huge personal satisfaction.