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Real Life Project

The Emma Project, run by nia, is a six bed specialist refuge in London for women fleeing gender violence with the additional vulnerability of substance use.

The women in the house have a variety of additional needs including mental health, emotional health, physical health, learning difficulties and assorted other needs associated with poverty, poor housing conditions homelessness and experiences of abuse.

Our client group is pan London and funded by London Council, Housing Benefit and Supporting People to provide 24/7 support, although a sleeping shift is provided from 10pm to 8am for emergency cover. Clients are supported by specialist support workers who have extensive experience in working within the fields of gender violence and substance use. We also have a Family Support Worker who engages with the women around their children.

The Emma Project engages with women in holistic wrap-around support planning. There is extensive Assessment and Risk Assessment with the service user. Risk management results from the assessment with the support worker, offering information and advice about how to address and minimise risk. This can be relating to safety planning, harm minimisation advice, issuing panic alarms and multiagency involvement in the reduction of risk to the client. Risk assessments are regularly reviewed so that any changes are captured and addressed. Combination of the needs assessment and risk assessments leads to the development of Support Plans.

This can be as practical and functional as referring into local prescribing services, transferring methadone prescriptions to the local area, registering with a GP, referrals to counselling services, supporting residents to initial meetings with services, registering for personal benefits, to soft outcomes like supporting clients to make phone calls until they are able to make them themselves, and empowering women to be able to identify and express their needs.

There is also partnership working with local statutory and non-statutory bodies to ensure the best support for women. Staff provide advocacy in the form of physical presence, written and verbal support. Emma Project staff also provide explanations to service users. This can be benefits procedures, method of using prescribed medication, mental health diagnoses or the impact of gender violence on the individual etc.

For more information contact Debbie Birkbeck on [email protected]