Skip to Main Content Skip to Site Map Skip to Accessibility Statement

Continued success for Trust domestic violence project

24th October 2023

Pictured l-r are: Trudy Reid, Director of Medicine and Unscheduled Care, Caoilfhinn Hardy, DASS Worker, Colm McCafferty, Interim Director of Children and Young People's Services, Helen Cranney Support Services Manager Women's Aid and Virginia Murphy, Interim Head of Acute Social Work.

The Domestic Abuse Safety and Support Service (DASS) is now celebrating its fourth year in the Southern Trust.

Officially launched as part of the UK wide ’16 Days of Action’ domestic violence awareness campaign last year, the service is available to women within Craigavon Area and Daisy Hill Hospitals.

DASS is a scheme co-managed by our Trust and Women’s Aid Armagh Down and is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, offering confidential onsite specialist support to female victims of domestic abuse within an acute hospital setting.

To date it has provided support at the time of crisis to 280 women, staff within the two hospitals have identified 406 women who have experienced domestic abuse and offered the service. To support our workforce to recognise and respond to domestic abuse, DASS has also delivered training to over 1,710 frontline medical, social work, adult protection and social care staff.

Awareness sessions have also been delivered to over 100 frontline response officers in local policing teams in the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Public Protection Unit (PPU) with the next step of broadening this initiative to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Services (NIAS).

A trial of an out-of-hours service in both hospital emergency departments has just been completed and an evaluation is underway to increase the availability of the DASS service. In conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Psychology, lectures will also be delivered on domestic and sexual Abuse, the services of DASS and Women’s Aid to the School of Nursing and Midwifery in 2024.

Helen Cranney Support Service Manager of Women’s Aid Armagh Down and Project Lead for DASS explained:

“The need for DASS is continually growing as is the need for domestic abuse services in the community. The unique partnership between Women’s Aid and the Trust ensures that women receive a full wrap around service at the time of crisis and beyond, which gives women and their children a trauma responsive and person-centred advocate to support them in their journey.

“The number of high-risk cases being supported by DASS demonstrates the clear need for the service, we know it saves lives and we are driven to expand DASS to where it is needed most,” she said.

Virginia Murphy Trust Hospital Social Work Head of Service and Project Lead for DASS added:

“Establishing the DASS service within our acute hospitals has provided a continum of support for victims of domestic abuse.

“Since implementation in 2020, referrals to the DASS service continues to increase, thus validating the demand for the service and evidencing the positive impact of bespoke training delivered to staff because it shows victims are being successfully identified and referred.

“For as long as domestic abuse exists, support for victims must exist and we are committed in our continued to drive support for victims of domestic abuse through our DASS service.”

Donna Murphy, Chair of the Southern Area Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership said:

“Domestic abuse encompasses any form of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse perpetrated by a partner or family member, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It can be psychological, physical, verbal, sexual, financial or emotional in nature and this includes coercive controlling behaviours.

“The Partnership remains dedicated to raising awareness of the critical, services and support provided by the Southern Area Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership members. Our ongoing collaboration is indispensable in driving progress and addressing the complex issues relating to domestic and sexual violence and the trauma that can result.”