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    CWU Launches New National Anti-Domestic Abuse Partnership with NCDV

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    CWU Launches New National Anti-Domestic Abuse Partnership with NCDV

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    Effective immediately, Britain’s 200,000 member-strong Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced the launch of a new working partnership with leading domestic abuse legal protection organisation, NCDV.

    The partnership was formally initiated by the unanimous carriage of Motion 13A at the Union’s Annual Conference 2022 in Bournemouth on Sunday 24th April 2022.

    NCDV (National Centre for Domestic Violence) is a 100-strong not-for-profit, community interest company, based in Guildford, which helps victims and survivors of domestic abuse access rapid legal protection, principally in the shape of Non Molestation and other Court Orders.

    If perpetrators breach the terms of these civil Orders police have the power to arrest and charge them with a criminal offence for which they can be sent to jail upon conviction.

    Members of the CWU, their families and friends will be able to surface concerns about potential cases of abuse through the national, regional and branch network of the Union. NCDV will also be providing a programme of training to Union officials in helping members to identify those at risk and how to make referrals leading to Court Orders.

    Sharon Bryan, Partnerships and Development Director at NCDV said:

    “We at NCDV are thrilled to have the recognition and support of one of Britain’s biggest unions with its representation across the postal, telecoms, technical, administrative and financial sectors. We applaud CWU’s values including its campaign against all forms of discrimination.”

    Paul Moffat, CWU’s Eastern Regional Secretary, said:

    “It is our pleasure to work in partnership with the NCDV through National, Regional and Branch Affiliation. We recognise the vital work the NCDV does to help protect victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

    “It is absolutely vital that people who have been affected by domestic violence receive the support and information they need to protect themselves and their children, and we are grateful to the NCDV that we can advertise these services not only to our membership but farther afield.

    “We support this not for profit organisation financially though affiliation to enable sustainability of the vital services they offer. It is our wish that our partnership grows and that it helps towards a better life for those suffering from domestic violence and abuse.”

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    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.”