Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) is delighted to welcome Holly Thomas in to a brand new role to support service users affected by domestic and sexual abuse.
As the Domestic Abuse Practitioner for the Trust, Holly will lead on improving the Trust’s response to domestic violence in line with the aims of the ‘Pathfinder Project’ – a national project which has been developed to support NHS organisations to address issues surrounding domestic and sexual abuse.
Holly will also deliver formal and informal training sessions on domestic and sexual violence with a designated focus on targeting the acute division, provide assistance around the two ‘Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference’ (MARAC)’s and provide guidance to staff around MARAC engagement and referral processes.
The development of this new role is part of C&I signing up as one of eight NHS organisations across the country to participate in the Pathfinder Project pilot. This participation is in recognition of the significant prevalence of domestic and sexual abuse that features in the lives of people dealing with mental health issues.
Figures by Pathfinder show that 1 in 4 women in contact with mental health services are likely to be experiencing domestic and sexual abuse when you see them.
Holly said: “I will provide advice and support to staff who are responding to domestic and sexual abuse, ultimately to offer effective person-centred, trauma-informed and safety planning support to service users - both as victims of domestic and sexual abuse and also to service users causing harm. This is to recognise that supporting and addressing the behaviour of those causing harm is critical to meaningful safety planning.
“I have a wealth of experience providing direct support to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse which I would like to bring to the role, as well as helping to working with staff on how to support service users who have been affected by domestic and sexual abuse.”
Prior to joining C&I, Holly worked as an Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocate with Camden Safety for four and a half years. Academically, Holly studied a combined honours degree in Women’s Studies and Psychology and then in 2018, completed a Masters in Women and Child Abuse at the Children and Women’s Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) at London Metropolitan University.
Holly said: “I am looking forward to working at an NHS organisation and working with staff across the Trust, both clinical and non-clinical, to build on the achievements made so far in improving how we tackle domestic and sexual abuse.
“I am very excited about the Trust’s move to adopting a trauma-informed framework to underpin the work being done on domestic and sexual abuse. I am also really looking forward to being involved in the AR-DSA network and contributing to the work plan including the planning of the future White Ribbon events. Ever since working in Camden, I have admired the huge efforts made by Shirley McNicholas in delivering these crucial awareness raising events addressing violence against women and girls.”
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In an emergency
C&I has moved the service we normally offer in emergency departments to our 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service, at St Pancras Hospital. The service will see people in need of urgent care so that they do not have to go to a hospital emergency department unless they have an urgent medical need. Emergency departments are under unprecedented pressure due to COVID-19 – the illness caused by coronavirus. We are urging people in mental health crisis to telephone our 24/7 crisis line on 0800 917 3333 or contact their usual community mental health team. If service users attend the 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service in person we will see you but we urge you to contact the crisis line in advance for advice to ensure you are only leaving home when absolutely necessary.