Fresh voice for Borders victims of domestic abuse

Jenny Williamson, Andrea Beavon, Rob Dickson, Kenny Simpson
Jenny Williamson, Andrea Beavon, Rob Dickson, Kenny Simpson

Over 60 people attended the launch of the ‘Hear our Voice’ DVD at Scottish Borders Council Headquarters in Newtown St Boswells last week, an event which also saw the woman behind the project honoured with a special award.

Welcoming guests to the event, Rob Dickson, SBC’s Director of Environment and Infrastructure described the DVD as “an important piece of thought-provoking work” which provided a turning point for the council and partner organisations to consider the service they offer in relation to domestic abuse.

He added: “The Safer Communities team has worked tirelessly since 2010 to create this film and to give the four survivors a voice and a platform to tell their stories.

“There are persistent and rising challenges with alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.

“We all have to ask ourselves if we are doing as much as we can to provide the best service possible. We are in a rural setting and the challenges are multi-faceted and multi-agency – it is crucial that we connect up the services to assist the survivors.”

Andrea Beavon, Violence Against Women Coordinator - and a major force behind the creation of the film - gave some background and described the DVD as “the end and the beginning”.

She said: “The film has taken 18 months of work with our partner agencies, the film crew and the women who told their stories.

“This is now completed and our intention is to take this work forward and to share it with partners and community groups and to use it as a training tool to improve the linked-up service which we can all offer.”

“The main message from these inspiring women is that living with domestic abuse was not a choice they made and they needed help to get back on their feet, and that if the making of this film can save one more family from a life of misery it will have done its job.”

And it wasn’t just the launch of ‘Hear our Voice’ that Andrea was celebrating last week as she was also given the Richard Hill award for 2011 in recognition of all her hard work.

Safer Communities Manager, Kenny Simpson, who nominated Andrea said: “She has tackled the area of Domestic Abuse with drive and energy, identifying huge gaps in service provision and raising awareness in public, private and voluntary sectors. She managed to get Violence Against Women (VAW) issues placed on all partners’ agendas and incorporated within the Single Outcome Agreement. She worked directly with Scottish Government and obtained funding to provide the Lets BSafe service for survivors of domestic abuse.

“In 2010, she led the partnership in creating the first ever Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre. Her knowledge as a board member on the Scottish Rape Crisis Board was instrumental in both securing funding, and for providing a service tailor made to local needs.”

Andrea, who had recently completed an MSc in Drug and Alcohol Studies and started a five year PHD in Sunstance Misuse at the West of Scotland University, is also an active board member of the new Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre.

Kenny added: It is remarkable how Andrea crams all of her work in. She is an absolute joy to have as a member of my team and someone who has massive potential as the above shows. I think she is a very worthy winner of this award, which will recognise and reward the unstinting work that she provides to SBC and the whole community.”

Copies of the ‘Hear our voice’ are available (free of charge) by contacting Andrea Beavon, VAW Coordinator, Safer Communities, Scottish Borders Council HQ, Newtown St Boswells, Melrose, TD6 OSA, or