Hometruths, a community-based social enterprise in Swindon, Wiltshire, held an event today helping survivors of domestic violence to find their voice.
Naomi Kent, Parliamentary Outreach Officer for the South West spent the day with TEARS – Hometruths’ Survivors Forum exploring the processes of Parliament and advising on how to get your voice heard at Westminster. The Parliamentary Outreach Service spreads awareness of the work, processes and relevance of the institution of Parliament, encouraging greater engagement between the public and House of Commons and House of Lords.
Over 2,500 incidents of domestic violence are reported to Swindon Police annually, but this represents only 20% of incidents. TEARS is a group of Swindon survivors of domestic abuse, who meet 6 times throughout the year to bring their experiences and thoughts around domestic abuse and violence to raise awareness of the realities for survivors and their children, and engage with statutory and voluntary service providers to bring about change and improvements. Not all the TEARS attendees have reported to the Police but all have a history of violence and abuse from ex-partners.
Stella explains why attending TEARS is important to her: “It is really important to know you are being heard. Domestic abuse is such a hidden issue and something that people do not speak out about. TEARS Survivors’ Forum is a great opportunity to use my personal experience to help others who are going through something similar. Hometruths is a brilliant organization who work really hard to support survivors of domestic abuse and bring about change. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
Kim Swinden and Mary Cosker Co-Founders of Hometruths successfully applied for some funding from Swindon Borough Council to facilitate TEARS Survivors Forum. “As a local organization we recognize the enormity of the real issue domestic violence is for Swindon, and TEARS is an invaluable opportunity to give survivors a voice. Naomi has been a fantastic source of information and ideas and we have all really enjoyed meeting with her today. About 11,000 unreported incidents of domestic abuse happen in Swindon each year. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime, so enabling survivors to know how to influence decision makers over such an important issue is vital.” explains Kim Swinden.
Mary Cosker outlines that “Nationally 2 women a week are killed by a current or ex-partner in the UK and a number of women have lost their lives in Swindon to domestic abuse, but we don’t talk about it and things won’t change for the better if we keep silent. We provide a number of other services for individuals and groups, and within our organization TEARS is an important service to raise awareness and hear the voices of survivors. For anyone interested in finding out more visit www.hometruths.coop or anyone needing support or information please ring 01793 617589.”
Pictured from the left: 5 TEARS attendees; Mary Cosker, Co-Founder of Hometruths; Naomi Kent, South West Parliamentary Outreach Officer; a TEARS attendee; Kim Swinden, Co-Founder of Hometruths.