The Domestic Abuse Commissioner holds her first ever Festival of Practice

Over the next two days the Domestic Abuse Commissioner is bringing together hundreds of people who have a role to play in tackling domestic abuse. Either through their lived experiences, or the work they do to support survivors.

The first ever Festival of Practice, which is being held in Manchester on March 28th and 29th, will include survivors, a wide range of sector professionals, representatives from statutory agencies and government.

It’s an opportunity to bring people together to share and understand how it is possible to drive change through partnerships and a coordinated response to domestic abuse. 

The Festival of Practice is focusing on innovation, collaboration and good practice around themes and issues that survivors have told us are important to them.

The Commissioner said: “I hope that we will all be inspired by what we see and hear and take from this event tangible ideas that we can put into action in our day-to-day roles to better help survivors at a time when they need support more than ever.”

There will be survivors and representatives from organizations who support Deaf and disabled survivors; male victims; survivors of child and adolescent to parent abuse; older victims; LGBT+ survivors; child victims; black and minoritized survivors; faith communities, so-called honour based abuse survivors and bereaved families.

There will be a series of key sessions which will focus on addressing racism within domestic abuse responses; what it means in practical terms to consider children as victims in their own rights; building a just family court system and how to ensure that survivor voice is central to improving the response to domestic abuse.

There will be an address from Kate Green, Deputy Mayor of Manchester on Tuesday and keynote speeches which will bring key themes together, featuring speakers Dr Purna Sen on ‘Addressing racism within domestic abuse responses’ and the ‘Anti-Racism Charter’ with Kanika Agarwal and Lucy Hadley (Women’s Aid).

On Tuesday there will be a viewing of Chris Godwin’s short film Timekeeper, followed by a panel discussion on children and young people’s experiences of domestic abuse and what it means – in reality – to consider children as victims in their own right.

This panel will include David Challen; Althea Cribb (consultant on VAWG); Jess Asato (Barnardo’s); Emma Bradshaw (Alternative Learning Trust) and Roz Davidson (the Positive Parenting Company).

On Wednesday there will be reflections on the Domestic Abuse Act from former Prime Minister Theresa May MP,  who introduced the Bill. We will hear from Yvette Cooper MP about her drive to tackle domestic abuse and journalist Louise Tickle will focus on issues around family justice and will lead a panel discussion.

Panelists will include Farah Nazeer (Women’s Aid), Aleisha Ebrahami, Jaye Williams (DA specialist) and Dr Adrienne Barnett (Brunel University).

There will also be a question-and-answer session about survivor voice and partnership working hosted by Khatidja Chantler (Professor of Gender, Equalities and Communities at Manchester Metropolitan University. The panel will include DCC Maggie Blyth; Sarah Kirkpatrick (Welsh Women’s Aid); Rahni Kaur Binjie (Imkaan); Dean Harris (Telford and Wrekin Domestic Abuse Forum) and Sharne Williams (Paul Lavelle Foundation).

Focused workshops have been created to allow detailed discussions around key work being done across the domestic abuse sector in 25 breakout sessions and these will be presented by experts from across England and Wales.

These will include: ‘Cultural competence: Politics and practice frameworks’ presented by Meena Kumari (HOPE Training); and ‘Supporting survivors with multiple vulnerabilities in safe accommodation’ from Louisa Steele (Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse) and Sarah Goodwin (Solace Women’s Aid).

There will be a session about ‘Family, Faith and Community: Effective ways to respond to domestic abuse’ being led by the Faith & VAWG Coalition, Wearside Women in Need and Cambridge Women’s Aid will lead on a discussion on.‘ A session about the long term impact of domestic abuse and one about preventing Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA).

The remainder of breakout sessions will cover a huge variety of topics including trauma-informed approaches; working with domestic abuse perpetrators; family justice; supporting disabled, transgender, older, and migrant survivors; commissioning ‘By and for’ specialist provision; managing online safety; working with male victims and responses in the healthcare system.

The ‘Ideas Exchange’ will allow delegates to connect with organisations from across England and Wales that the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office have identified as pioneering and forward thinking. This space for networking and learning will feature agency-led stalls from various statutory and voluntary organisations.

These will include SignHealth, the Deaf Health Charity; the Paul Lavelle Foundation which supports male victims; Hourglass which supports older victims; IKWRO, the women’s rights organisation offering support for Middle Eastern, North African, and Afghan women in the UK; and the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop amongst many others.

There will also be the opportunity to view the works of photographic artist Allie Crewe and hear spoken word poetry from Rakaya Fetuga and Nasima Bee. Scribing Artist and Illustrator Leanne Van will also be visually documenting parts of the Festival.

The Commissioner is aware that it is the holy month of Ramadan and a quiet space has been set up at the Festival for anyone who wishes to pray, reflect or rest. Ramadan Mubarak to all those celebrating.

Please keep an eye on our Twitter feed @CommissionerDA to get updates using the hashtag #DACFestival. We will share more content about each of the main sessions towards the end of April.