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    Ambassadors

    Ambassadors

    The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) are delighted to announce the appointment of our 1st Ambassador. Liz Fraser joins us with a wealth of experience and 25 years as a writer and broadcaster about family life, mental health and recovery. We look forward to taking this partnership forwards and are delighted to be working together to support victims and survivors, and to make domestic abuse socially unacceptable
    Ambassadors 1

    Liz Fraser

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    Liz Fraser is one of the UK's best-known writers and broadcasters on all aspects of modern family life.

    She has been a presenter, host and guest on national television and radio for over 20 years, has written four books about family life and a No1 best-selling memoir about being the partner of an alcoholic, ‘Coming Clean’, published by Bloomsbury in 2021.

    Liz has written features and columns for The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Red, Grazia, Glamour, The Daily Mail, Mother and Baby, Marie Claire, Junior, Woman, Bella, Runner's World, and many others.

    In 2016 she set up a mental health platform, “Headcase’ to support young people in talking about their everyday mental health issues, giving talks to thousands of students in Universities across the country.

    Liz has a degree in Experimental Psychology from Cambridge University, and four children ranging in age from 24 to 4. She speaks fluent French and German, and is a competitive 10km and half marathon runner - though her knees are no longer very keen on this!

    Her greatest passion in life is her children, and helping others cope better with difficult situations she herself has lived through.

    I am delighted and honoured to be appointed the first UK Ambassador for the National Centre for Domestic Violence.

    Domestic Abuse is a subject very close to my heart. Following my own experiences I have spoken with hundreds of other victims and survivors, many of them also parents like me, and the stories are as shocking in their content as in their similarity.

    Many don’t even realise for years that they are experiencing abuse, they excuse or minimise it to try and keep the family together or to support a partner they still love, however abusive they become, or because they are gas-lit or have threats made against them if they were to speak out. Assaults go unreported, and the abuse continues. When it comes to post-separation abuse, things only tend to get worse.

    Both the criminal and civil systems are rife with problems for victims of domestic abuse at almost every stage, especially where there is a child involved – yet very little is known about it until a person finds themselves embroiled in it. Victims often struggle for years under almost unbearable pressures, unable to work due to childcare restraints, years of ongoing court proceedings and even suffering physical illnesses as a result of the stress and anxiety. All-the-while they must shoulder a 24/7 responsibility to remain strong, present, loving parents, often financially unsupported, while trying to navigate the fiendishly complex and sometimes frightening legal and social care systems.

    Already victims of abuse at home, they now feel further damaged by a system they thought was there to help them. They often don’t qualify for legal aid because they stayed in the family home to look after the children, while earning considerably less than they could if they had more support. As a result they feel unheard, victimised, scared and desperate, often exhausted to the point of breakdown.

    For all of this to be happening in 2022 should be utterly unacceptable.

    NCDV offer a service to all victims and survivors of domestic abuse in all its forms, and manage that service by providing sympathetic, compassionate, non-judgemental and, most importantly, practical and understandable support that’s available almost immediately. This is what victims and survivors need.

    It’s time to hear these voices, expose the harsh realities that leave countless victims of domestic abuse vulnerable to further harm – often until it’s too late – and make changes happen to protect and support them better.

    I want to use my role as Ambassador of the NCDV to raise awareness of domestic abuses that still remain hidden or silenced, highlight the challenges faced by victims and support the vital service the NCDV offers to those in need.

    I aim to work with the institutions and establishments that are in contact with victims and which can make decisions that affect every aspect of their lives, to try and make much-needed changes at the highest level. Saying ‘the system is broken’ is no longer enough.

    It’s time for change.

    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”