Escape Site

About us

Who we are

We are a dedicated and diverse team of people working since 1985 in the domestic abuse sector. Our team come from many different communities and some have lived experience and some with worked experience – constantly learning from each other. We are passionate about our work together with women, men, and children who are living with abuse, our work with other teams, organisations and within our communities.

Our foundations are in working with female victims and survivors of domestic abuse, starting with a refuge in Portsmouth and a single women’s safe house where we could support women more effectively if they had additional complexities such as substance misuse or mental ill health.

In 2010, we changed our model to You First, to meet the changing face of domestic abuse, opening our doors to male victims. We embraced our learning and increased our knowledge about how domestic abuse can be impacted by intersecting issues including BAME, LGBTQ+, and where a person lives.

This led to developing teams to support work in different communities. Rural communities, for example, face different circumstances than urban areas, prompting the founding and growth of Dragonfly.

Experience, research, and accredited training informs all our interventions. We base our work on what matters to the person we are working with, individualised for their needs and wishes. During 2020/21, we understood that our work was changing again. We were not only working with individuals, but also with families. We were also working with families/couples who didn’t want the relationship to end.

In 2021 You First changed to PARAGON. Our domestic violence and abuse teams deliver integrated interventions, holistic family work and the successful Dragonfly programme with victims and survivors at the core of all we do. We have moved, as have many of our colleagues, to work more together and in partnership with individuals, communities and other agencies and with the feedback and comments, we understood that ‘You First’ no longer represented how we are perceived, our values and our work.

Where do we work?

We are predominately based along the South Coast with teams working from Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, along to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Dorset and Somerset.

PARAGON leaflet

What we do (adults)

Each member of PARAGON has a passion for working with people in a trauma-informed way, working with you as an individual. We will:

  • Work with you to identify your strengths
  • Work with you to understand what you want
  • Ensure you are central to your own safety and support
  • Ensure that safety remains central to all we do
  • Advocate for and with you at meetings
  • Work in partnership with you and others to achieve your goals to live safely
  • Be effective and trustworthy

What we do (children and young people)

We have specialist children and young people workers within all our teams, they will:

  • Talk to you and your parent/carer (if appropriate) to understand what you want
  • Work with you on a regular basis through a range of activities to help you come to terms with your experiences
  • Attend meetings with you and advocate on your behalf where needed
  • Help your parent/carer understand the impact that violence and abuse has had on you
  • Give you a space to talk

“No amount of me trying to explain myself was doing any good. I didn’t even know what was going on inside of me, so how could I have explained it to them?”

What we do (people causing harm, perpetrators, and young instigators)

We have a team of specialist workers who engage with the person causing harm. Whether as an adult within their own intimate relationship or as a young instigator causing harm at home, we know that many people who use harmful behaviours in their own relationships want to stop. We can help:

  • Our team will talk with you and explore your behaviours
  • Young people will work with our specialist young persons’ team
  • Adults will work with our Behaviour Change team
  • We have a range of individual sessions and group work
  • We will complete an assessment with you, discussing your behaviours and what you want to change
  • We will contact other people you live with and support them, too

The PARAGON blog

Stalking: A true story

Stalking: A true story

Stalking can appear in many different forms. It’s often portrayed as being carried out by a current or past partner. But this crime can be...

read more
Religion as a coercive tool

Religion as a coercive tool

Religion as a coercive tool is more common than you might think. We asked one of our frontline workers to tell us about her experiences with...

read more
Let’s talk about consent!

Let’s talk about consent!

When supporting young people with understanding healthy relationships, sessions and discussions about consent are important. It offers a safe...

read more