Conversations is a series of blog profiles where we chat with managers about the excellent work they do. This year, our PARAGON Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (SIDAS) was re-awarded three new contracts that aim to improve many people’s lives. We chat with James Dore, our PARAGON SIDAS Strategic Manager, about these contracts, what they are and what they can offer.
What is your favourite food?
Any party without cake, is just a meeting
What is your favourite pet?
I am the house servant to four feline overlords
What sports/teams do you follow?
No one is perfect, but being a Liverpool/Yeovil fan, is as close as anyone can get
What is the best thing about your job?
Home time, Joke! It’s the vibrant and dynamic work environment, where we make a real difference to the safety and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people in society.
From left: Chantelle Potter, SIDAS Operational Manager, Tonia Redvers, Director of PARAGON, James Dore, SIDAS Strategic Manager
Tell us how you feel about being re-awarded three contracts?
Yes, we’re very happy to have won the three contracts within SIDAS. We have started a new journey and delivering that is very different. I’m so excited to be here to continue it!
One of the contracts is going to be a new hub?
One of the things that we’re very passionate about in Somerset, is getting the message out there. Somerset is an expansive county and has some very rural areas. But it also has some very high-density areas.
It’s about that first journey. That first contact of asking the questions, getting support in the rural areas where traditionally there hasn’t been a face-to-face presence. This contract is about having that option there. It’s having that access for members of the public to seek advice, especially in domestic abuse.
That’s what the hub is about. It’s a front door so people can come and receive all manner of expert advice. From information and guidance on finances for legal advice to domestic abuse.
Can you tell us where the pop-up hubs are based?
The pop-up hubs borrow a phrase from pop-up cafes and restaurants. Utilising partners, such as libraries or village halls, we will pop up at a time each month. For example, Wincanton library, we will have a few hours there.
Members of the public can come and meet our staff and also meet our partners. Moving forward we want to have volunteers who will be working with us as well.
Community Pop Ups
- Wincanton Balsam Centre: 1st Tuesday of the month. 10am-12 noon
- Chard Library: 2nd Thursday of the month. 10am-1pm
- Frome Library: 3rd Friday of the month. 10am-1pm
- Watchet Community Centre: 4th Wednesday of the month. 10am-1pm
- Nelson Trust Bridgwater: Every other Friday. 10am-3pm
- Abbey Office Yeovil: Every Thursday. 5pm-8pm
- Wells Portway Annex: 1st Monday of the month. 10am-1pm
Do you need to book to use the pop-up hubs?
For the hub here in Yeovil, contacting us to book would be advised just so that the staff are aware for parking numbers. The pop-ups in libraries, leisure centres and various other places, it’s literally turn up and you’ll meet our staff or volunteers.
How often are there pop-ups?
We have them every week, but in different parts of the county. So, every day of the week there will be a different location across Somerset. At the moment, we have four or five from Wincanton to Watchet and then to Bridgwater. These locations may change based on people’s needs and demands.
What can someone expect if they visit a pop-up hub? For example, at a library?
There’ll be signage indicating where they need to go where they’ll be greeted by a member of staff. And what they want is going to be entirely led by what that person needs. That person may just want some phone numbers. But primarily it’s going to be for those who wish to start a conversation and have that sort of advice. For example, “this is what is happening to me, what can/should I do?”
When people get referred into the service, is it based on a level of need?
It’s based on many different things. Traditionally, it’s a scoring system in terms of the risk and also someone’s professional judgment. So, if you have a police officer or midwife who feels that this particular situation is incredibly risky, that would be done on what’s called professional judgment. Based on risk, it’s where that person will get their best help.
If somebody’s risk is slightly lower, they will be maintained within the hub and have that ongoing support. And perhaps go to some support groups. Those who are higher risk will get that immediate, intense support from our advocates to instantly address and reduce that risk. That is what we’re here to do; to reduce that risk and make that person safe.
SIDAS is working with two other agencies. How do we work with them?
Currently, Julian House is running our refuge and our safe housing accommodation and FEAR-less are providing our counselling. However, the hub is the control point. The hub controls the referrals that are coming in. We are the front door. We work closely with our partners, like Julian House. In terms of training, sharing of best practices and ideas, and also looking at what works and what doesn’t.
One of the things we’re very keen to put in place is survivor’s voices. I know we’re sitting here talking about it. I myself have never gone through some of the things we help with.
Having the voice of a survivor carries weight and is actually of great importance to how you shape and model best practices. Julian House is helping us set up those forums to identify what works. We’ll then look at the barriers we have in place and then learn to overcome them.
Can you tell us about the Survivors Voice Forum?
We are expanding our volunteer network and have already been approached by a great number of members of the public who wish to contribute. This is whether they’ve been through the service or simply wish to contribute by utilising their own unique skill sets. Volunteers can help us expand the services that we provide. Especially at the pop-up hubs.