Over a 12-month period staff at the BEAP Community Partnership in Bradford, which has been working with the South Asian community for over 20 years, noticed a new and worrying trend. Thirty or so South Asian men involved in existing BEAP projects came forward to say they were experiencing domestic abuse.
Humayun Islam, the CEO of BEAP, realised there was an urgent need for support for male victims from the community and set up Men Reaching Out (MRO) which supports male victims of domestic abuse from a South Asian background.
Men Reaching Out is a three-year project funded by The Henry Smith Charity. It was launched in September 2021 and has already received more than 300 calls from all over the country. Humayun said that the majority of these calls are from men aged between 30 and 40 predominantly from the Muslim faith.
This includes men like Abdul (not his real name) who was physically and financially abused by his wife who threatened him as well as his family in Pakistan. She was threatening that he would be deported because of his insecure immigration status and was using their daughter against him. After two physical assaults Abdul called the police, moved out and got practical help from Men Reaching Out.
Abdul now has a three-month visa extension through the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession, has his own accommodation and is attending an MRO peer support group which is helping him with his mental health and physical health.
He said that he found the interaction with the other people in the group made a really significant difference to his wellbeing.
The Peer Support Group is just one service being offered by MRO, it also provides a confidential telephone helpline and community outreach support.
Humayun told the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office: “The MRO service is here to help and support all men. Abuse is abuse and it can happen to anyone.
“We receive referrals from a number of organisations. We have self-referrals, social prescribers, police, local authority, GP practices to name some of the referral sources. Unfortunately, many of the referrals for men are at the latter stage and therefore it is difficult to provide the early intervention support that is needed for male victims. We really want to encourage referrals at the early stage so that we can intervene with support earlier”.
MRO offers a range of really significant one-to-one help including risk assessments; a support plan; in depth conversations; information, support & guidance; signposting to other specialist organisations to create a better pathway and experience for male victims of domestic abuse.
Men Reaching Out is currently getting training for one of its staff members to become an IDVA – a specialist support worker for domestic abuse victims.
Humayun told us how the peer support group provides a really important opportunity for men to come together in a safe place. There are fortnightly sessions to encourage men to engage in sport and discussion.
Humayun said that engaging male victims in sport has been a really good way of getting them to open up about their experiences.
The victims MRO supports often have issues around stereotypes of masculinity, shame and honour and fear of not being believed by statutory organisations, local authority or family.
Humayun said: “As a grassroots organisation, we have built trust with the community over 20 years of service. This has been important in delivering services to the community. We are a service-user lead organisation which puts the heart of the communities need at the forefront therefore we are able to break down barriers in service delivery. When it comes to male victims we break down barriers by simply by believing them.”
If you want to find out more about Men Reaching Out or get in contact with them, here are the details: BEAP – BEAP Community Partnership (beapcp.co.uk) or call 01274 731020. firstname.lastname@example.org