Domestic Homicide Volunteer Research Opportunity - 17th & 18th July 2018
On the 17th and 18th of July a group of students from the Law and Criminology department, here at Aberystwyth University, gave their time to learn more about domestic violence, domestic homicide and how it affects older people.
We were very fortunate to be joined by Elize Freeman our Wellbeing Practitioner and Lynn Rees - Dewis Choice Support Worker. Both Elize and Lynn have vast knowledge of Domestic Abuse and Violence and how it affects older people. Elize and Lynn have been working hard recently for their Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) accreditations. They spoke with the students about the service the Dewis Choice Project provides to clients and they discussed the use of the DASH risk assessment tool.
We asked the students to collect data from newspaper articles written about homicides where the victim was a woman and the perpetrator was a man. The students analysed the articles and gleaned quantitative data which they recorded on a spreadsheet.
We spent time discussing the notion of the ‘Ideal Victim’ and the portrayal of victims and perpetrators in the media.
We are very pleased to have been able to offer this opportunity to students studying at Aberystwyth University. Undertaking this volunteer research opportunity and working as part of a team provides these students with enhanced employability skills and invaluable experience in academic research.
We are very thankful to the students for volunteering on the domestic homicide research days, many of whom have asked to continue with the data collection they have started, and have expressed an interest in continuing to volunteer for the Dewis Choice Project.
Here is a quote from one of our volunteers:
‘I find the team amazing. I felt inferior prior to this experience, but now I feel useful.’
Work Experience - Aberaeron Secondary School July 16th to 20th
The Dewis Choice Project was delighted to be joined by Carys, a student from Aberaeron School, who was with us for a week on work experience.
At the end of her week with us, Carys wrote,
Hi my name is Carys, I am a pupil from Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron and I have been introduced to the Choice project to do my work experience as part of my year 10 work.
On my first day I got to look at the website to get a brief understanding of what the Dewis Choice project was about, because I didn’t know what it was and I had never heard of it before. Then I sat down with Jeremy and discussed any questions I had about the project. Later on in the day I was asked to make a poster about domestic abuse after I finished the poster and wrote about my first day Jeremy posted them on the website.
Carys on day 1 and the poster she created on her first day
On my second day which was a Tuesday I took part in a two day activity that I and some student volunteers were participating in, where we got to learn about domestic homicide and domestic abuse. We mainly focused on how men either killed or abused women. We looked at a few cases and we also did some data entry which was interesting.
I enjoyed learning about those types of things even if it was rather sensitive material. I enjoyed learning about domestic homicide because when I’m older I want to be in the police force. I want to make sure that the first response to domestic abuse, (which in many cases is very poor), is a good one and there is an effective system that all officers can use because in many cases it is not dealt with efficiently.
On my third day with the Dewis Choice project it was the second and final day of the two day activity on domestic homicide. We focussed on the research of Nils Christie, who looked at what an ‘ideal victim’ was and how the media portrays the victim and the offender. After a morning of discussion we then finished off our data entry. I have learnt a lot form the last three days because I wasn’t that familiar with the term domestic abuse or domestic homicide and now I have a rather good understand of it and how you would go about a case. I also found the fact that there is something known as an ideal victim which was very shocking to me and I had some very strong opinions on that matter.
On my fourth day I was back in the office where I finished off my data entry and I spoke to Elize about different cases but we have to use numbers instead of people’s names to make sure we respected their confidentiality. I learnt about different roles in the police force from Lynn because I may want to go into them when I’m older. And I updated my progress diary for the week. I was also given a book to borrow from Lynn about preparing for police duty.
I have loved my experience so much I’m going to volunteer for the Dewis Choice project. I am looking forward to the things that I am going to be a part of in the near future. Today I was given time to make an information sheet type thing on a subject of my choice that had something to do with the Choice project, I chose positive ageing and looked at different ideas and their tips and did a sort of informal version of my own.
I also looked at ageing in different cultures because in some it is seen as something that will gain you respect and in others it makes older people seem like a burden. Overall I really enjoyed my work experience and would definitely recommend it to anyone. One of the main things I have learnt is there is more than one side to every situation and you just need to be able to see it and understand -it’s kind of like don’t judge a book by its cover.
HEFCW Case Study
A new report published by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) highlights the impact of universities on local, national and international communities.
Innovation Nation: On common ground was launched by HEFCW at a celebration of Welsh institutions’ civic engagement activities in the Norwegian Church, Cardiff, on Wednesday 13 June 2018.
The report includes more than 50 case studies showing how universities are working in partnership and playing an important role in both local and global communities.
In a keynote speech to delegates from a range of universities and partners, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM said: “Civic mission work helps with bringing communities and universities together. The report highlights the best practice civic mission work already happening in our universities. Let’s keep that momentum going.”
The Dewis Choice project is very proud that we are one of those case studies, and are one of a number of examples in the report of how Aberystwyth University is making a contribution to improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of people and places in Wales.
HEFCW’s Innovation Nation: On Common Ground report is available in full online: www.hefcw.ac.uk/publications/hefcw_reports_and_statistics/hefcw_reports_statistics.aspx
World Elder Abuse Awareness day 2018 - June 15th
Virtually all countries are expected to see substantial growth in the number of older persons between 2015 and 2030, and that growth will be faster in developing regions. Because the numbers of older persons are growing, the amount of elder abuse can be expected to grow with it. While the taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world, it remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national action plans.
Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.
The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.
Choice goes to court
Elize and two student volunteers (Eluned and Natalie) recently spent a day at the specialist Domestic Abuse court in Llanelli.
They observed a range of cases in the morning and spoke with a number of the domestic abuse workers involved and then in the afternoon attended a trial.
It proved to be a very interesting and illuminating experience.
The trial in the afternoon involved an older couple where physical abuse was alleged by the man on his female partner.
Valuable learning was gained about the need to support the victim/witness before and during the court process.
Pride In Care – Opening Doors National Conference 2018
Members of the team are attending the Pride in Care - Opening Doors National conference, being held at University College, London on June 13th 2018.
There is a full agenda of talks & specialist workshops, which will identify and share the work of innovative health and housing champions and discuss the challenges of building consensus for organisational change within the NHS, and wider health and social care sector.
This in turn will better equip the health, social and housing care professionals attending to support older LGBT+ people.
Government Domestic Abuse Consultation event
Government Domestic Abuse Consultation event
On Thursday 10th May 2018, members of the Dewis Choice team attended a Government Domestic Abuse Consultation event held at Cardiff City Hall to ensure that the perspective of older people in Wales experiencing Domestic Abuse were represented.
As part of the consultation process the Project Lead and lead researcher, Sarah Wydall met with MP Victoria Atkins, Home Office Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability to inform the consultation process and highlight the work of the Dewis Choice Project in supporting older people experiencing abuse.
In February 2017, the Prime Minister announced a new programme of work leading towards a draft Domestic Abuse Bill to change how we think about and tackle domestic abuse.
To inform the Government’s next steps they consulted on a number of ideas for tackling domestic abuse, wanting to hear views on how they could best:
- Promote awareness– to make sure everyone understands what domestic abuse is and how to tackle it.
- Protect and support– to improve the safety of victims and the support available.
- Pursue and deter– to ensure that perpetrators are held responsible for their actions and that the response of police and the justice system is effective.
- Improve performance–to encourage all services and organisations working with domestic abuse victims or perpetrators to do so in the best way possible.
The draft Domestic Abuse Bill may include the introduction of a new statutory definition of domestic abuse, an independent Domestic Abuse Commissioner and a new Domestic Abuse Protection Order. The consultation event was one of a number held to offer professionals, practitioners and victim-survivors the opportunity to provide their expert suggestions in developing the legislation.
Bystander 2018 feedback
Helen & Matthew's wedding
Friday May 11th 2018 - our very own Helen gets married!!
The whole Law & Criminology Department and particularly those in the Dewis Choice team, sent Helen and her husband Matthew many congratulations on their wedding on Friday May 11th.
Below - the happy couple signing the register to make it official and the rather magnificent cake!
Project talks to community groups in April & May
On Weds May 9th, John and Jeremy met with the Macular Society group in Lampeter and on April 17th, Elize and Jeremy met with a Stroke Support Group who meet at the New Inn, Rhydlewis in Ceredigion.
Both groups had invited us to speak to them about the research the project is undertaking and on the wider issue of domestic abuse as it affects older people. We had previously met the Stroke Support Group in February, following an invite from the organiser, Glenys Richards-Jones and carried out a very constructive and interesting focus group session with them on ‘Supportive Networks’.
We had not met the Macular Society before, and the group leader, Diana Williams was keen for us to meet them and talk about the project. We also learnt more about how people suffering with macular degeneration are affected and the impact it has on their lives.
There was an excellent turnout at both meetings and both groups showed considerable interest in our research, the subject matter and asked many searching questions, which we hope we answered to their satisfaction!
The added bonus in Lampeter was that Diana is an excellent baker and there were homemade Welsh cakes, shortbread, seed cake and other delicious goodies to eat. John & Jeremy started with good intentions but ended up sampling at least one of everything on offer!
John speaking to the Macular Society A small selection of the cakes!
Elize presenting to the Stroke Support Group at the New Inn
VAWDA & SV Conference March 28th 2018
The Choice project were delighted to be invited to speak at the VAWDASV Conference in Cardiff, organised by CASCADE/ExChange, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.
Sarah and Rebecca presented on; 'Older People and Domestic Abuse: The Dewis Choice Project ', which is undertaking transformative research with victim-survivors of domestic abuse aged 60 years and over.
Pictured below is Rebecca presenting at the conference:
If you would like to know more about the conference, and to download the slides from the presentation, please follow this link:
Here are a few of the points from the presentation:
A gendered perspective:
- Women are more likely to be abused (Bows, 2017; Teaster et al., 2000);
- Men are more likely to be the perpetrators (SafeLives, 2015-16)
- Service response is discriminatory e.g. police (Stubbs, 2016), criminal justice system (Nichols, 2011; Shapland, 1985), social services (Hester, 2011)
- Subconsciously give more account to a male’s account of the abuse and be sceptical of the women’s recollection of the disclosure (Stewart et al., 2013).
- Practitioners do not always recognise & report domestic abuse that occurs in later life (Wydall & Zerk, 2017; McGarry et al., 2014);
- Domestic homicide reviews (Sharp-Jeffs & Kelly, 2016);
- People do not know about civil options (Clarke et al., 2012);
- Individuals may not want to criminalise the abuser (Clarke et al., 2012);
- Older victims of abuse are not always central to the decision-making process (Clarke et al., 2015);
- Use of the empowerment model (Taylor-Dunn, 2016).
Research Objectives – promoting inclusion and increasing our understanding
- To provide an insight into what influences decision-making in relation to justice provision given the victim-survivor’s specific circumstances.
- To use participatory action research to work with both professionals and the public to design a new approach to justice based on restorative principles as a third option to civil and criminal options.
Dewis Choice Innovation is the:
First service to:
- Focus on low to medium risk victim-survivors aged 60 years and over;
- Offer a community designed response incorporating criminal, civil and restorative options;
- Integrate justice and wellbeing in line with legislation – VAWDASV 2015, SSWB 2014, Wellbeing and Future Generations Act 2015;
- Explore healthy relationships in later life on a national scale including intimate partners and family members;
- Work within a statutory infrastructure.
First research to:
- Conduct a longitudinal prospective study capturing the lived experiences of older people at different stages in the help-seeking journey;
- Undertake a community-based participatory action approach to designing and delivering a justice response;
- Include people who lack capacity in the research process;
- Engage the general public in learning about the nature of abuse by family members through different community engagement models;
- Train and support 247 volunteers (climbing);
- Carry out intergenerational work around pro-social modelling;
- Audrey Jones Memorial Award for Feminist Scholarship, Welsh Crucible, Case Exemplar for Big Lottery UK.
International Women’s Day March 8th #IWD2018
Today women will stand globally to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day is devoted to reflecting the progress that has been made and to celebrate acts of courage and determination. But IWD2018 is also a time to call for change, to highlight situations where women’s rights, health and safety are compromised.
Throughout history, women have fought to promote gender parity and although women have accomplished many wonderful and successful achievements unfortunately, we still live in a world whereby women are oppressed and subordinated by men. Violence against women and girls is evidence of the patriarchal oppression that exists within society.
The feminist movement has challenged the private nature of domestic abuse and there is an increasing public recognition that domestic abuse and violence is a social problem. However, older women remain hidden victims of domestic abuse. In research, policy and practice older women are ‘ignored, invisible and overlooked’ (Wydall and Zerk, 2017).
As part of the Dewis Choice Project objectives, the team are documenting research on the domestic homicide of older people, another area where a gap in knowledge exists. Our involvement in a workshop ‘Standing Together Against Domestic Violence (STADV) domestic homicide case analysis’ Sharps-Jeffs and Kelly (2016), initiated this process.
Domestic homicide of older women is a neglected area of research that would benefit from further investigation. Since 2011, there has been a year-on-year increase of domestic homicides involving older victims. Today we call for change! There needs to be formal recognition from organisations and policies that older women also experience domestic abuse and that the impact of coercive controlling behaviours and abuse can have fatal consequences on the lives of older women. Until we recognise older victims of abuse, their experiences will continue to be unheard, their needs will be unmet and lives will be lost.
Since September 2017, we have begun to review the literature on the homicide of older people aged 50 years and over. We have collated information from the Office of National Statistics and Femicide studies such as Counting Dead Women (Ingala-Smith); Dobash and Dobash’s (2015) study, ‘When men murder women’. We have examined who murders whom, the risk factors involved, perpetrator characteristics, and where a domestic homicide review is available. We have begun to look at the trajectory leading up to the homicide and the aftermath. We have also conducted a macro-micro analysis on domestic homicide reviews.
Over the next six months, we will be sharing our learning and highlighting our observations on homicide victims aged 50 years and over.
Our blogs will involve discussions on the following:
- Media portrayal of female and male homicide victims
- Intimate Partner Homicide
- Adult Family Homicide
- Carer/or cared for related homicides
- Collateral murders (where other victims were killed, often other family members)
- Homicide-suicides (often relating to the idea of ‘mercy’ killings)
The Choice Project’s ethos aims to raise awareness on domestic abuse in older people, promote older women’s rights and facilitate discussion on healthy relationships in later life. If you are interested in becoming involved in our research project, please contact our research team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Older people’s voices should not go unheard.
Helen Holt, Rebecca Zerk, Sarah Wydall
Pictured below the project team.
Bystander Intervention Sessions – February 14th to 28th 2018
Following the level of interest and success of the Bystander sessions run in November, we asked Welsh Women’s Aid (WWA), if they would be able to run the courses again early in 2018, and they were more than happy to do so.
Everyone involved in the Bystander Intervention sessions was delighted by the number of students who attended the sessions and the level of interest, involvement and participation they showed.
Across the three weeks the two trainers from WWA, Alice Lilley and Catherine Phillips, introduced the students to the Bystander theory, and then covered topics such as culture and gender, rape and sexual assault, domestic abuse, Bystander options and how to develop the skills necessary to safely intervene as a Bystander.
The students were given pizza for lunch and cake for the afternoon break and that all seemed to go down well!!
Photo - the students who attended the first session on Feb 14th plus Alice Lilley from Welsh Women’s Aid and some Aber Uni staff
The team at WWA are piloting the Bystander Intervention training and awareness sessions and Aberystwyth University are proud to have been one of the Welsh universities selected.
We also extended an invite to members of staff at the university, who work in relevant roles, to attend, and were delighted that a number of people were able to participate as well. At the final session, Caryl Davies, Director of Student Support, spoke to the group about the specific services available to them within the university - as seen in the photo on the right.
We were also delighted that Jo Hopkins, Head of the Home Office Team in Wales, was again able to speak to the group during the final session, about her work, which was highly relevant.
In 2009 Jo became Head of Interpersonal Violence for the Home Office, responsible for legislation on prostitution, and UK policy on domestic and sexual violence. She was Head of the UK delegation at Council of Europe negotiations in Strasbourg that developed theCouncil of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), which the UK signed in 2012.
Jo was also responsible for the 2010 cross government strategy 'Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls', including leading the largest government led public consultation on the matter.
The Bystander Intervention is designed to help male and female students recognise sexual harassment and abuse, and give them the skills and confidence to respond appropriately. It also looks at changing cultural norms that condone sexism and harassment.
AEA Cymru Annual Conference - February 14th 2018
Older people and coercive control – Working together to prevent, protect and support.
The AEA Cymru annual conference was held in Cardiff on 14th February 2018 in partnership with Welsh Women’s Aid.
The Dewis Choice project was proud to be invited to contribute in two ways - Prof. John Williams was asked to chair the conference and Prof. Alan Clarke presented on aspects of male victims.
Prof. John Williams, chair of the conference.
The areas examined during the day were:
- Coercive control and older people
- Practices in Wales aimed at safeguarding older people from coercive control.
- The implications of recent legislation on safeguarding older people experiencing domestic abuse.
- The impact of the different duties and legislation placed upon statutory agencies and others aimed at preventing domestic abuse, protecting victims and survivors and supporting individuals.
The day involved speakers, workshops and an interactive panel discussion including:
Julie James, AC, Leader of the House and Chief Whip, Welsh Government
Steve Bartley, Safeguarding Lead, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales (pictured below, right)
Jan Pickles, OBE, National Independent Safeguarding Board (pictured above, right)
Prof. Alan Clarke, Professor of Criminology, Dewis Choice Project, Aberystwyth University (pictured above, left)
Gary FitzGerald, Chief Executive, Action on Elder Abuse
Eleri Butler, Chief Executive, Welsh Women’s Aid
Margaret Smith, Butterfly Project, Safer Wales
Jackie Neale, Adult Safeguarding Service Manager, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
A small selection of comments on the day from Twitter:
Fantastic contributions from the panel members and questions from delegates examining good practice, what justice means for victims and ensuring that those older people experiencing coercive control receive the appropriate support they need.
Steve Bartley delivered a powerful workshop on coercive control highlighting the need to ensure older people are recognised as victims and examining the risk factors: loneliness and isolation, fear, vulnerability and dependency.
Speaking at our conference, Jan Pickles outlines case examples demonstrating more needs to be done to ensure a joined up and consistent response to protect and provide services to older victims of domestic abuse.
Voices 4 Victims Conference - February 14th 2018
An unusual way to spend Valentine Day, but four of the Choice team headed for Stoke on Trent on February 14th, to attend the first “Voices 4 Victims Domestic Violence & Abuse Conference,” led by Amanda Bursten. Award winning nurse, Amanda, has a “passion” for supporting victims of abuse, and is part of a pilot programme run by ARCH, in Stoke, to raise awareness of abuse amongst A&E staff.
Guest speakers in the morning included:
- Dr Holly Taylor-Dunn - Presenting the latest research on stalking and harassment
- Penny East, SafeLives – On the role of health services in domestic abuse
- Sue Arnold Deputy PCC Staffs – The work of the Staffordshire Police in responding to victims of abuse.
- Frank Mullane, AAFDA – The importance of the voices of victims of domestic homicide and their families.
- Dr Richard Fawcett, Royal Stoke Hospital – An emergency department response to FGM.
And our very own Rebecca Zerk, presenting research on Abuse in the Elderly- including; help-seeking behaviours, service responses, coercive control and harmful behaviours in later life, and Helen Holt, introducing the work of the Choice project.
Lynn Rees, Choice Support Worker and Elize Freeman, Choice Practitioner, hosted a stand, disseminating project information and literature from domestic abuse services. The team were thrilled with the response to the project, particularly from health professionals, who said they were regularly identifying abuse in their older patients, and cited the need for specialist services to refer to.
In the afternoon we heard speakers sharing their personal experiences of abuse, including David Lean, a survivor of child sexual abuse, and Sarnjit Flora, on “Surviving a life threatening marriage.”
Mandie promised the event would be “High energy, with a unique presentation style,” and it certainly was. The team left feeling inspired, having met so many agencies and individuals all determined to raise the voices of victims and speak out against abuse. Due to huge demand a second event is already being planned for 2019.
Week 4 Update by Julia & Daniel
The last week of our internship has come to an end. It has been a very valuable experience to meet the team of the Dewis Choice Project and be able to learn about the important research being conducted. Also to work with everyone involved with the Dewis Choice Project, who have been very supportive and who have really made this a great experience.
We have learned so much from this experience, which has given us a new perspective on the issues such as the abuse of older people, domestic violence and how the project is investigating these problems to try and understand how older victims of domestic abuse have different needs to the rest of us.
During our time here, we have also looked into the beneficial influence of a healthy lifestyle (exercise, healthy diet and positive relationships) on older people. This was so that older people can improve their health, have a more fulfilling life and better quality of life.
What we have learned we will take with us throughout our careers and would be happy to come back, help with the project and assist in any way we can in the future.
Thoughts on domestic abuse and the Dewis Choice project
by Preeyangka d/o Thevigai Krishnasamy
Student volunteer on the Dewis Choice project January 2018
The concept of abuse is very stigmatised and over popularised in the main stream media to only highlight a specific group of people when it comes to the topic of abuse.
For example, with regards to abuse, younger women are put at the front most centre of attention. However, a large portion of society fails to realise that there are other groups of people that fall within the category of being abused, such as the elderly.
Often, this group are the most overlooked and pass through the system unnoticed. Research is also minimal with regards to highlighting the issues that this group of people face. There are a lot of issues with regards to domestic abuse and most of it goes unreported due to the fear of losing touch with loved ones or aggressive intervention measures taken by the authorities.
Though in recent times much has changed and since the United Kingdom is a progressive nation, (despite the various calamities that has arrived post-Brexit), much thought and effort has gone into overcoming this pertinent issue that is ever increasing to draw the attention of the general public with regards to domestic abuse among the elderly.
Another good question to ask is - who is considered to be falling under the category of ’elderly’?
This is clearly not a black and white answer and when the Dewis Choice team have gone out in Wales to meet different community & support groups and ask them this very question, it varied from people answering that it was people between the age group of 40, 50 or even 80. So, what is elderly then? This can vary very much from person to person.
The next pertinent question to ask is why is it such a stigma for the young generation to grasp the idea that the elderly need support as well?
On average, if you walk up to someone and ask them if the welfare of the elderly is well-taken care of, the answer could simply be, ‘Yes, of course! The elderly have such good access to support and services here in comparison to other countries.”
There might even be answers like, “I don’t know, there isn't much said about it in the media, so I guess it should be fine” or even “I’m sure if you’re old there will be someone to take care of you”. This brings me to the concept of the bystander effect.
What the bystander effect essentially means is that someone else will do it and that it’s okay for you to not act on it or do anything. In hindsight we may think this is very wrong, I will never neglect the welfare of someone especially if they are in my family. What can happen in reality is that we might become so engrossed with work that we may, unbeknownst to ourselves, neglect our loved ones and this may affect the elderly generation the most. What’s more, it can be very hard if you are in your mid- 30s, trying to juggle and balance between family and work life and more so, your parents.
In the UK the average age for receiving the state pension has increased. Worse still is the fact that many of the privileges that the elderly had pre-1997 in this country are now no longer available because the government simply put, cannot afford it. Mortality rates are low here due to the high-quality of lifestyle and level of education as well as income that the elderly possess. Hence, living to a very old age also means that they need the necessary backing to support themselves in their day-to-day life. Necessary needs to sustain living such as the provision of transport and bus passes and wheel chair facilities and so forth, must be met.
However, government cut-backs on welfare expenditure also means the elderly need to rely on themselves for most of these provisions or, fall back on their families for help. This is where the problem starts if they do not have a strong or good support system or even worse, if they are abused or even neglected.
So, if you are asking, ‘What can I do to help?” or if you are interested in making a change in any way, I like to note a saying from Mahatma Ghandi, a great revolutionary himself, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. The change starts with us.
The answer is simple. Be a volunteer on the Choice Project or Dewis (Welsh for choice). I have come to know so much by registering to be a volunteer to help in their research to help fight against domestic abuse of the elderly here in Wales and we hope that this joint effort spreads nationwide and encourages similar movement globally.
This project is unique and distinctive in nature because it’s one of the, if not the first, of its kind.
What to do if you want to be a volunteer?
Many options are available to you if you choose to be a volunteer, you can take part in many varieties of work at the same time have the amazing opportunity to put this on your Curriculum Vitae (CV) as being part of the project.
You have the option of helping spread the word through media, attending public events and even being part of the research team. The best part is, that it’s all at your own convenience and you have the option to choose what you feel most comfortable doing.
Below are three volunteers cutting the cake at the launch meeting in Cardiff.
The team members in the Choice Project are very helpful and passionate people, always looking out for the needs of the volunteers and guiding them at every step of the way. You can meet them personally at the Llanbadarn Campus i.e. Law Campus at room 2.60 Elystan Morgan Building.
As I always believe that it’s part and parcel of our duty to give back while we can to the society and if you are reading this, I do consider you to be one of the many out there with the privilege to do something and to be a part of making a difference. A difference that is very much needed and something that we may not consider important in our daily lives due to the privilege we have in our youth.
The project team:
This project will make you question yourself and brace yourself for what happens when in around 50 years, you have become one of those labelled as ‘the elderly’. Will you want the same fate for yourself?
Preeyangka d/o Thevigai Krishnasamy
Volunteers & Practitioner update meeting Carmathern January 18th 2018
By Julia & Daniel
All the participants at the Carmarthen meeting, January 18th 2018
On Thursday, 18rd of January, the Dewis Choice Project held an update meeting in Carmarthen.
Attendees were people who had volunteered on the project and practitioners from the third-sector across Carmarthenshire. They took part in a discussion on a range of topics, one or two of which we would like to develope into a petition to the Welsh Government.
After a presentation that updated everyone of the project, the participants were split into two groups.
Each group was given three topics to discuss and were asked to choose and discuss the two they found most relevant.
During the discussion, we gathered some very interesting feedback. Everyone found all of the suggested topics important and relevant and were very supportive of the idea of turning one or two into a petition.
Some of the areas discussed included the need to provide more resources and services aimed at helping older people affected by domestic abuse. Also, the feasibility that a service could be developed whereby elderly people have a number they can call for help on everyday matters and if nessesary someone can go out to their location and assist them. This idea was inspired by the Dyfed-Powys Police Pegasus Service, which is designed to help those who, through illness or disability find it difficult to communicate with the police in difficult situations.
There were discussions on how to encourage hospitals and doctors to actively signpost patients towards local groups for support, help and advice. We discussed ways to raise awareness of the importance of inter-generational activities and how they benefit both children and elderly people.
Finally, there were discussions about increasing interaction between schools, colleges and universities and the older population, and that students and pupils should be given more information on how to identify signs of abuse and become more aware if their grandparents or older relatives are at risk of suffering abuse. The important issue of accessibility to petition signing in some rural areas has also been brought up and disccused, as the petition would only be accessible on the National Assembly website.
For us, it was a very interesting experience to spend the day in Carmarthen and be involved in the meeting. The day was completely different to what we have done so far and made us realise some different aspects of our work on the Project.
Law & Criminology Fesival January 19th 2018
Sarah Wydall, Professors Alan Clarke and John Williams pictured L to R below:
On Friday, 19th of January, the Festival of Law and Criminology took place in Aberystwyth Art Centre. It was an all day event full of interesting talks and interviews given by Aber professors, lecturers, current students and alumni.
During the festival we also listened to a presentation about the Dewis Choice Project given by the three joint Principal Investigators on the Research Project - Sarah Wydall and professors Alan Clarke and John Williams. We also helped to man the Dewis Choice stand which tells people about the project and helped to collect answers to questionnaires about family relationships.
We are now half way through our internships with the Dewis Choice Project Office and we are really looking forward to finding out even more about our roles and continuing to exploring different areas of research.
AberForward - week 2 update
It has been over a week into the AberForward Scheme with the Dewis Choice Research Project Office.
In the first week we started the research on the material relevant to the Project and putting it out on social media.
Using Twitter and updating the website allowed me to get more insight into topics such as the lives of elderly people, social care and supporting the older victims of domestic abuse.
Both Daniel and I started this week working together on the project talking about the positive impact of exercise and good diet on health for people who are 60 years and over. I found out how much physical activity levels decline with increasing age. It is therefore even more important to motivate and encourage physical activities in this age group.
Also, within the next two days we will be attending two events. One of them is a meeting in Carmarthen on Thursday, January 17th and the other one will be a Festival of Law and Criminology in Aberystwyth which will take place in the Arts Centre. I am really looking forward to helping with the Dewis Choice Project’s stall, meeting fellow students and listening to inspirational talks.
I am now on my second week of my placement at the Dewis Choice Project and so far I am really enjoying my experience and have an exciting week ahead.
The past week we have been doing many different activities and learning about the day to day tasks that are needed to be completed at the Dewis Choice Project office. We have assisted in activities such as scanning and filing of documents, social media posts for the Dewis Choice Twitter page, creating content for the official website and learning more about the issue of elderly abuse that the Dewis Choice Project is researching.
For the rest of the week we will be taking part in a meeting that the Dewis Choice Project has organised, involving volunteers and partner agencies in Carmarthen and where I will be assisting on the day. On the following day we will be helping Elize to man the Dewis Choice Project stand at the Festive of Law and Criminology which should be a good and interesting experience for me.
Health & Fitness after 60
Facts and Figures
Physical activity levels decline rapidly with increasing age.
In Wales the over-65s attain less than half the physical activity of 25 to 44 year olds (Figure 1.).
The Health Survey reports on what proportion of leisure time, on average, adults spent participating in various types of sedentary behaviour. For almost all of the age groups, the most sedentary time was spent watching television (Figure 2.).
For both women and men the time spent sedentary increases with age. Women aged 65 and over spend slightly more time sitting down then men in the same age group (Figure 3).
What can we do about it?
▪ Even though the evidence shows that levels of physical activity decline with age, current government guidelines recommend that older people aged 65 or over, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, do 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise a week. This could include brisk walking, ballroom dancing or even chair-based exercises
▪ It is extremely important to encourage various forms of physical activity among the elderly so they can remain active and therefore stay healthy and maintain their independence
What are the benefits of being active?
What types of exercises can you do?
The NHS choice website states that an elderly person should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, doing so can help you avoid or prevent a lot of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, some cancers, dementia and depression.
Some activities that can help improve your fitness are:
- Fast walking
- Walking football
Maintaining a healthy diet
▪ Maintaining an active lifestyle is important and having a healthy diet is more important as you get older.
▪ Eating well can help you prevent conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
▪ In order to have a healthy diet you need to avoid harmful foods/drinks/meals such as chocolate, fast-food, sugary drinks and foods with high amounts of carbohydrates and try and include the following in your daily routine to improve your diet:
▪ Lean protein- lean meats, seafood, eggs and beans
▪ Fruits and vegetables
▪ Whole grains- brown rice, whole wheat pasta
▪ Low- fat diary- milk and alternatives
Three habits that make you healthier
▪ Being active
▪ Eating right
▪ Reaching out
In order to take care of your health and wellbeing, it is important to find a good balance between these habits and try to fit them into a daily routine.
Positive habits are like the gears, they intertwine and fuel each other.
This article was researched and written by our two AberForward graduates, Julia and Daniel.
AberForward Jan 2018 Day 1
Hey my name is Daniel,
I am currently a part of the Aberystwyth University graduate program (Aberforward), my role is with the Dewis Choice project office which is located on Aberystwyth’s University’s Llanbadarn campus. I graduated from Aberystwyth University back in July 2017 with a degree in Business and Management, and so the opportunity to go back for a four-week placement was too good to pass up.
My first day was very informative and interesting as I was learning all about what the Dewis Choice project is about, the service they are providing to many elderly victims who are in need of support after suffering from abuse from within their own homes.
This seems to be an issue that has gone unrecognised in recent years, but the Dewis Choice project is about trying to bring this issue to light, and learn about what can be done to combat elderly abuse or prevent it from escalating further.
I also believe that this four week-placement will allow me to develop myself, as being a part of a project which is developing very important and influential research on an important social issue of elderly domestic abuse, which will be beneficial to myself as this experience will provide me with a new insight and skills that I can take away and use in the future.
It is still early on in my placement here but I am already enjoying it here and have been made to feel very welcome, so I am now looking forward to start working and contributing and hopefully make a positive impact before I leave.
Hello, my name is Julia,
I graduated from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Law and Business last year and now I currently work on the Dewis Choice Project in the Department of Law and Criminology.
The project started in March 2015 out of the initiative of The Centre for the Study of Ageing, Abuse and Neglect in Aberystwyth. It is designed to carry out research on various forms of domestic abuse from emotional and physical to financial exploitation. Victims of the abuse are older people aged 60 and over living in Wales in their own homes and the perpetrators are their family members.
The project aims to increase the public awareness of the issue. It is also focused on finding and sharing relevant research findings and material that can help understand the problem in more depth.
I feel honoured to be able to work on the project that deals with such an important matter. I think that having the awareness of this issue is important not just for many individuals affected directly by the abuse but also for society in general. My work over the next four weeks will be to find out more about the project, publish relevant material on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and work on the project website.
I am very much looking forward to the next month and feel delighted to be able to learn from the experience of working on the project.
I am a Carer
During one of our discussion sessions with a Carers Support Group, one of the participants told us she had written a poem about being a carer.
She was very happy for us to share it, and we were so glad that she did - here it is.
Bystander Intervention Course November 2017
Bystander Intervention Sessions – November 15th to 29th 2017
Photo of the students who attended the final session on Nov 29th, plus trainers from Welsh Women’s Aid, (WWA) and Choice project members
Everyone involved in the Bystander Intervention sessions was delighted by the number of students who attended the sessions and the level of interest, involvement and participation they showed.
The team at WWA are piloting the Bystander Intervention training and awareness sessions and Aberystwyth University are proud to have been one of the universities selected. We will be running the three courses again in February and full details will soon be available for students to register to attend.
The Bystander Intervention is designed to help male and female students recognise sexual harassment and abuse, and give them the skills and confidence to respond appropriately. It also looks at changing cultural norms that condone sexism and harassment.
Across the three weeks the two trainers from WWA, Alice Lilley and Rhiannon Maniatt introduced the students to the Bystander theory, and then covered topics such as culture and gender, rape and sexual assault, domestic abuse, Bystander options and how to develop the skills necessary to safely intervene as a Bystander. The students also completed a questionnaire on social norms and took part in focus groups at the beginning of the first session and the end of the third one.
The students were given pizza for lunch and cake for the afternoon break and that all seemed to go down well!!
Below, Alice Lilley (left) & Rhiannon Maniatt from Welsh Women’s Aid presenting to the group.
Members of staff from the West Wales Domestic Abuse Service attended the sessions to offer advice and help if needed.
We were also delighted that Jo Hopkins, Head of the Home Office Team in Wales, was able to speak to the group during one of the sessions, about her work, which was highly relevant.
In 2009 Jo became Head of Interpersonal Violence for the Home Office, responsible for legislation on prostitution, and UK policy on domestic and sexual violence. She was Head of the UK delegation at Council of Europe negotiations in Strasbourg that developed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), which the UK signed in 2012.
Jo was also responsible for the 2010 cross government strategy 'Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls', including leading the largest government led public consultation on the matter.
Students at one of the sessions.
Some of the feedback, comments and learning from students who attended were:
Feedback / Comments
- What interested me about attending was to understand more about the approaches that we could take to prevent sexual assaults / harassment.
- The first session really made me think and imagine myself in that situation and understand a lot more about the topic.
- I am now more confident in actively helping someone in a difficult situation.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up if something is not right.
- A ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes’.
- Be proactive and be confident.
- It is okay to offer help to a complete stranger if necessary.
- Bystander actions matter – they do make a difference by preventing others.
- Interesting to see the misconceptions and stereotypes of sexual assault challenged.
- To help stop the problem you have to talk about it.
- I now know what to do if I see someone who looks like they are in an uncomfortable situation.
- I understand far more how sexual jokes can influence perpetrators.
- People are less likely to intervene when in larger groups.
- You need to decide how you would act before a situation arises, so you know what to do if it does.
- How common this issue is in universities.
- Understanding more about the myths and facts of rape and about the repercussions of rape and abuse.
- The diversity of victims of rape and sexual assault.
- How best to intervene safely in dangerous situations.
- Sexual violence is a problem for both males and females.
- To be more aware of and noticing signs of domestic violence - spotting the ‘early warning’ signs.
- Diffusing a situation does not have to be confrontational – importance of distraction / interruptions
- Domestic abuse is not always physical.
- A woman cannot legally be charged with raping a man.
- How to intervene and approach someone who has been assaulted without making them feel as though you are criticising or questioning them.
- Bystander intervention strategies.
- The proactive side of how to prevent and act in a risky situation.
- What ‘red flags’ to look out for in social situations – how to identify a problem.
White Ribbon Campaign 2017
Saturday 25th November 2017 kicked off the launch of the United National’s annual “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” led by the Secretary General’s initiative UNiTE to end violence against women, which will end on 10th December, coinciding with “Human Rights Day.”
The Dewis Choice team have been busy throughout November in the build up to the campaign, working with partner organisations, to raise awareness, particularly in the student population.
On 24th November we joined forces with the department of Wellbeing, Participation, Equality and Social Inclusion at Aberystwyth University, to promote the White Ribbon Campaign.
We went out on campus offering white ribbons to students and staff, and asking them to take one action to raise awareness of violence against women and girls.
We were asked about violence against men too, and were able to talk about how Dewis Choice works to support both men and women in the 60+ age range who experience domestic abuse.
We were visited by Joanne Hopkins, (left below in photo) Head of the Home Office Team in Wales. As Head of Interpersonal Violence, Jo was responsible for the 2010 government cross strategy ‘Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls.’
We were also pleased to welcome Rhian Bowen-Davies, (right below in photos), who has just completed two years as National Advisor for Wales for Violence against women, other forms of Gender-Based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. Rhian met with Sarah and Rebecca to discuss how the project has developed over the past two years.
We were proud to host Alice Lilly and Rhiannon Maniatt of Welsh Women’s Aid, piloting “The Bystander Intervention” with Aberystwyth University students. The Bystander Intervention has been used in universities in America and will help male and female students recognise sexual harassment and abuse, and give them the skills and confidence to respond appropriately. It also looks at changing cultural norms that condone sexism and harassment.
Blog to follow soon, with full details of the intervention, and thoughts from the students who attended.
Bystander Intervention Training & Awareness
“I knew enough to do more than I did”
- Quentin Tarantino talking about working with Harvey Weinstein
The Dewis Choice project at Aberystwyth University is proud to be working with Welsh Women's Aid to host a series of training and awareness courses for Aberystwyth University students, which is taking place over three consecutive weeks in November 2017.
What is the Intervention Initiative and what is it for?
The extent of sexual harassment, sexual coercion, rape and domestic abuse in student populations across England has been revealed in evidence from crime surveys, student surveys and professionals working with students. The evidence has produced an imperative for universities to act. This resource is a response to that imperative.
Welsh Women’s Aid are looking for students to take part in a pilot programme that aims to show students how to intervene to stop violence and abuse. The programme is called “The Bystander Intervention” and it has already been used in campuses across the USA.
Details on the Bystander Intervention can be found on the UWE website: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/bl/research/interventioninitiative.aspx
The Bystander Intervention will help male and female students recognise sexual harassment and abuse, and give them the skills and confidence to respond appropriately. It also looks at changing cultural norms that condone sexism and harassment.
Why do we need it?
- One in three female students at UK universities will experience sexual assault or abuse while studying.
- One in eight men experience unwanted sexual advances at university (The Telegraph, 2015)
What will students gain from completing the three-week course?
- Free approved training from specialists that will help them and their friends and peers respond in the right way in a crisis;
- A certificate of training to help increase their employability;
- New skills for their CV: assertiveness, the ability to remain calm in challenging situations, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, problem solving and empathy skills;
- The opportunity to speak with experts from Welsh Government and specialist services .
The Dewis Choice project and Aberystwyth University are proud to be working with Welsh Women's Aid on the important pilot for this initiative.
October 18th 2017
Very many thanks (for a second time), to the Carers Support Group in Llanelli who recently participated in one of our Discussion groups.
We looked at various aspects of supportive networks and the discussion also branched out into other areas.
It was a very positive and thoughtful session – thank you to everyone who was involved.
Elize & Jeremy ran the session, which was arranged by Bethan Morgan from the Carers Information Service in Carmarthenshire.
The members of the group are below, together with Bethan Morgan (3rd from left) and Elize (4th from right).
Carmarthen U3A Group
October 11th 2017
Very many thanks again, to the Carmarthen U3A Discussion Group, who were happy to participate recently in another of our discussion groups. We looked at various aspects of healthy relationships and positive ageing, as well as related topics that sprang from the discussion.
Thank you to everyone who was involved, both the members of the group who had attended the last session and the new members who were participating for the first time. Your time and input is very much appreciated.
The members of the group are below, together with Jeremy (3rd from left).
Bridget Penhale seminar
The Choice project were delighted when Bridget Penhale accepted our invitation earlier in the year, to visit Aberystwyth and deliver a seminar on, ‘Older Women, Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse: Recent Findings and Ongoing Challenges’.
Bridget is a Reader in Mental Health, in the School of Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia. She is acknowledged as a national expert in relation to both elder and adult abuse and has received international recognition for her work in elder abuse.
Most of Bridget’s research career has been focused on elder abuse, the protection of vulnerable adults and domestic violence. The emphasis on elder abuse and vulnerable adults was developed in conjunction with the growing professional and political awareness about abuse and violence, to which she has contributed.
After delivering the seminar, Bridget kindly agreed to be interviewed about her career and research interests by three of our PhD students, Linda Thompson, Megan Talbot and Debbie Kobani, for their ‘Law Stories’ project.
Law Stories is a monthly podcast produced by PhD students at Aberystwyth University. Their goal is to make law entertaining, interesting and comprehensible by focusing on interesting or unusual cases, stories and aspects of the law and legal research you may not have heard about.
You can listen to the interview with Bridget by following either of the two links below.
New episodes are released on the 15th of every month at: https://soundcloud.com/lawstories
You can also visit the Law Stories Facebook page where you can access all the interviews: https://www.facebook.com/lawstoriespodcast/
Neath Cancer Support Group
Tuesday August 22nd 2017
Many thanks to the members of the ‘Life After Cancer for Everyone’ support group in Neath, who met Elize and Jeremy on Tuesday this week.
Pictured below are the members who attended (with Elize in the back in the green top).
We discussed various aspects of ageing. We looked at how and why relationships are formed and change as you go through life and the value and importance of having supportive networks around you at all times, whether you are ill, healthy, young or old.
We would like to thank them for inviting us to join them and sharing some of their life experiences with us – we look forward to meeting them again!
If you live in the Neath Port Talbot area and have had a diagnosis of cancer and would like to talk to people who have been in the same situation - please make contact with the group and go along and meet them. They are an incredibly friendly and welcoming group, and you can say as much or as little as you want.
Details of their weekly meetings and who to contact are below:
Welshpool U3A Discussion Group 14th August 2017
Elize, Jeremy and Helen had a wonderful time visiting the Welshpool U3A this week. Very many thanks to them for taking part in our discussion group.
We started looking at how older people are portrayed on the TV and in the media, but the discussion quickly branched out into other areas and was a very thought provoking session – thank you to everyone who was involved.
Jeremy (Far Left), Helen (Far Right) and members of the Welshpool U3A.
Article in the Journal of Adult Safeguarding
8th August 2017
Prof John Williams, one of the co-principal investigators on the Choice project, has written a paper entitled, ‘Adult safeguarding in Wales: one step in the right direction’, that has just been published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Adult Protection.
The article considers the background to the recent changes to adult safeguarding in Wales as a result of the new measures introduced by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and discusses their potential impact.
John considers the practical implications for practitioners of the new Act. As this is new legislation, he highlights that there is very little analysis of the implications of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 in relation to safeguarding. The article presents an overview and, in places, a critical analysis of the new safeguarding duties.
No data on the impact of the new legislation is yet available. The paper identifies future research evaluating the working of the different approaches to safeguarding within the United Kingdom.
With thanks to the Journal of Adult Protection.
The article can be downloaded here:
Appointment of Carmarthenshire Support Worker
August 1st 2017
We are delighted to welcome our latest recruit to the project – Lynn Rees, who joined us this week as our Support Worker in Carmarthenshire.
Lynn has many years of experience working in the areas of domestic abuse and safeguarding and he is looking forward to working with our partner organisations in Carmarthenshire.
Pictured are the three co-principal investigators on the Choice project, welcoming Lynn to the team.
L to R: Prof Alan Clarke, Senior Research Fellow, Sarah Wydall, Lynn Rees and Prof John Williams.
As the whole team were together we also took the opportunity to have a new group photo taken:
L to R (front): Alan, Sarah & John.
L to R (standing): Elize, Lynn, Rebecca, Jeremy, Carmel & Helen.
Webinar invitation - Coercive control and older people
Thursday July 27th
Welsh Women’s Aid are running a series of webinars looking at key issues regarding coercive control and older people.
The webinar on July 27th was successfully hosted by the Choice Project team members Sarah Wydall and Rebecca Zerk.
They highlighted interesting issues related to coercive control in older poeple.
This included findings from their own research that indicates the key factors that impacts older people experiencing coercive control are isolation as well as the importance of needs led, strengths based work with older people.
We look forward to the next webinar.
To see the slides that Sarah and Rebecca used during the webinar, please click on the following link and download the file.
To listen to the actual webinar, including the Q&A session, please visit the Welsh Women’s Aid website, link below:
Contact them about becoming a supporter and being able to access the learning as part of the ‘Ask and Act’ training.
A Collection of Material Produced by Miles and Stephanie
Here Miles and Stephanie focused on positive ageing and used celebrities as examples.
Blog by Work Experience Students From Aberaeron School 19th - 21st July 2017
Blog by Miles & Stephanie, Work Placement students from Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron Comprehensive school.
The Dewis Choice project works with local communities, developing new ways of promoting justice and well-being and engaging with older people across Wales. The project offers individuals the opportunity to say what they feel is important to them in later life and works locally with volunteers to develop new ways of promoting well-being.
This project offers us the opportunity to improve our understanding and become more aware of the issue of elderly abuse as well as positive ageing. We have set aims and objectives we wish to complete during our time here.
Our aims are to aid in raising awareness on the matter, carry out research and become more educated on the topic and help create material containing detailed analysis of recent news stories on the ageing population.
Our objectives were that by getting involved in activities such as the dementia conference we attended, we would be able to improve our understanding on the matter, therefore we could carry it forward and help raise awareness. We were asked to look up relevant articles and findings on the mistreatment of many individuals, information which we then used to create visual resources, being informative for the public and any individuals interested in the matter.
During this project we have learnt how hard elderly abuse can be to identify, where vulnerable individuals may receive physical, verbal, sexual and financial abuse. Originally when thinking of elderly abuse, the association with care homes is often made. However, it was alarming to realise that elderly abuse is often domestic where individuals are afraid to speak out, in fear of exposing a loved one and criminalising them.
In institutional settings, some may say that there are factors which lead to abuse; poor staffing levels, lack of training, no procedures or policies and poor communication, to name but a few. In domestic settings, social isolation, patterns of family violence, alcohol and drug problems or poor mental health problems are some of the factors which lead to domestic abuse.
We have also looked into the different actions which could be made, such as help lines and local support workers.
Conversely, we looked into positive ageing. We wanted to analyse how individuals could live in a better state of being during their later years. We saw that the elderly should savour the positives by appreciating memories, adopt an optimistic mind-set and learn to let go of any negative memories. Furthermore, we established that possibly gaining a hobby or an interest subsequently would lead to positive ageing.
We have enjoyed this experience so far and are thankful for the opportunity.
Dementia Friends Conference Reflection by Miles and Stephanie
“Before the dementia friends training session both of us regretfully admit that we knew very little about dementia. Our ignorance stemming from a lack of education on the matter. It’s something that features on the news, however, it’s not a topic that we would usually be inclined to learn at school.
Despite our inferior knowledge, we did have an inkling that people with the disease have an increasing loss of memory and an anxiety due to this, believing the issue was mainly related to the confusion and frustration caused by memory loss.
At the session we were informed about the stages of dementia and how it increasingly deteriorates with memories and then people’s emotions towards those lack of memories increase.
The continuous lack of blood flow to the brain affects short term memory with the person being unable to recall memories. This is what we usually associate and identify with an individual who is living with dementia. However, there are also other symptoms of anxiety, issues with communication, problems with judging distances and mood changes to name but a few.
The heart breaking reality of dementia is the fact that there is no cure, something that was emphasised. Also that a person living with dementia fights the battle from the early stages as it progresses.
Now that we are more aware, we will try our hardest to wear our new ‘dementia friends badge’ to promote the message, the importance and the true reality of peoples’ symptoms, so maybe other people can become more accommodating in their day-to-day lives.”
Work Experience Students From Aberaeron School 19th - 21st July 2017
Here at the Dewis Choice Project we are delighted to be joined by Miles and Stephanie, two pupils from Aberareon School, who are with us for a week on work experience.
Both Miles and Stephanie have been looking at the media representation of ageing and abuse.
We are looking forward to sharing their findings with you.
Dementia Friendly Communities
Tuesday July 18th 2017
The Dewis Choice Team hosted a Dementia Friends awareness session at Aberystwyth University and we were pleased to see so many of our colleagues and memebers of the public join us in becomeing Dementia Friends.
We would like to extend a big THANK YOU to Marcia Vale from the Alzheimer's Society who travelled to present on the session. Marcia's warmth, approachablilty and in-depth knowledge made discussing and undertanding a difficult and often taboo subject easier.
We encourage anyone who hasn't attended a Dementia friends session, to contact the Alzheimer's Society and find one happening near you.
We are very proud to be Dementia Friends and support anyone 'Living with Dementia'.
Policy Forum for Wales Keynote Seminar - July 11th 2017
Next steps for older people’s care: finance, new models of care and the National Dementia Strategy
Carmel and Elize attended this seminar in Cardiff, which addressed topics such as:
- Priorities for older people’s care
- Preparing for new regulation and inspection arrangements: quality, accountability and patient safety
- Challenges and opportunities for financing older people’s care
- Moving to new models of care for older people: acute care, quality of life and the role of community care
- Implementing the new National Dementia Strategy
- Next steps for improving dementia care in Wales – diagnosis, innovation and patient experience
International Congress on Law & Mental Health 2017
We are delighted that the Choice team are presenting at the 35th International Congress on Law & Mental Health, being held in Prague, from July 10th to 14th 2017.
The presentations from the team are on the following subjects:
- Understanding elder abuse: ageism and gendered practices.
- Defining ‘Elder Abuse’ at National and International Levels of Legal Discourse.
- Domestic Abuse and Older people – Ageism in Research, Policy and Practice.
- Domestic Abuse and Safeguarding: A Need for a More Integrated Approach.
The team are also joined at the congress by Eric Y. Drogin, from Harvard Medical School, who is presenting on, ‘Commonality and Divergence in International Approaches to Elder Abuse’.
Pictured L to R are:
Rebecca Zerk, Eric Drogin, Prof Alan Clarke, Sarah Wydall and Prof John Williams.
Launch of new information & guidance on domestic abuse
June 22nd 2017
Information and guidance on domestic abuse: Safeguarding older people in Wales
Carl Sargeant, AM and Welsh Govt Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children and Sarah Rochira, Older People's Commissioner for Wales, launched the new information and guidance on domestic abuse: Safeguarding older people in Wales document.
The purpose of the guide is to enable professionals working in Welsh public services to work more effectively with older people who are experiencing or who have experienced domestic abuse.
The Choice project is very proud that two members of the team, John Williams and Sarah Wydall were part of the working group that helped formulate these new guidelines.
A copy of the guidelines can be downloaded from the OPC website or by using this link:
Carers Support Group Llanelli
June 21st 2017
Very many thanks to the Carers Support Group in Llanelli who recently participated in one of our Discussion groups.
We started looking at how older people are portrayed on the TV and in the media, but the discussion quickly branched out into other areas and was a very enlightening session – thank you to everyone who was involved.
Elize & Jeremy ran the session, which was arranged by Beth Morgan from the Carers Information Service in Carmarthenshire.
The members of the group are below, together with Beth Morgan (4th from left, standing up), Elize (3rd from right) and Jeremy (second from right).
United Nations World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) – June 15th 2017
Thursday 15th June 2017 is the 12th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and the Dewis Choice team have been busy raising awareness and taking action to tackle some of the issues head on.
“While the older population is growing at an accelerated speed, many gaps in ageing related statistics and data exist, affecting the ability to develop targeted policies and programmes that address ageing related challenges.” (UN, 2017)
We have been out meeting with individuals and community groups to debate some of the myths and stereotypes society places on older people. Focus groups have proved particularly popular, with members keen to challenge serious issues, with a healthy dose of humour thrown in, and some great examples of the positives of ageing.
U3A Discussion focus group with Elize Freeman
“Ensuring the participation of older adults themselves in ending victimization.”(UN, 2017)
At our Cardiff launch in January 2017, we introduced Carmel, our dedicated Choice Support Worker. Carmel is now taking referrals and has started working directly with older people, to discuss their options and support them in their decision making and accessing services.
The project is looking forward to welcoming Marcia Vale of the Alzheimer’s Society, on July 18th , to provide dementia friends training to the team, project volunteers, and students, helping to make Wales a dementia friendly place to live.
Community Care Live - April 2017
Dewis Choice team were invited to present at Community Care Live 2017 event in Manchester.
The event is the largest free social care event in the UK which attracts 1000’s of social care professionals every year.
The event was designed to provide training, masterclasses, recruitment and networking opportunities.
Attendance allowed individuals to hear the latest best practice by accessing key national bodies and thought leaders.
Rebecca and Elize represented the Choice team whose research is conducted at the Centre for the Study of Ageing, Abuse and Neglect.
Rebecca shared expert knowledge on working with and supporting older victim-survivors of domestic abuse and Elize introduced the highly innovative Dewis Choice Project. Both talks were very well received and generated discussions on the hidden crime of domestic abuse in later life.
The Dewis Choice team were delighted to present to a large audience and to contribute to the huge success of the event.
Choice Support Worker Vacancy - April 2017
Are you interested in working with us in the Carmarthenshire area – helping to support older people who have experienced domestic abuse in their own homes?
You will also carry out community based work with older people and their families – helping to raise awareness of the issues around the domestic abuse of older people.
To find out more download the job description and person specification here.
To apply, please go to the vacancy page on the Aberystwyth University website.
The closing date is Weds 3rd May so if you are interested, don’t delay!
International Women’s Day event
The IWD event on March 15th, in City Hall, Cardiff was organised by Women Connect First.
The project had a stand at the event this year, and it was a great success. Both Carmel and Elize were there, and they spoke to many people about the project and how we are looking to hold discussion groups in Cardiff looking at various aspects of ageing and healthy relationships.
The event broke new records with an outstanding number of 38 stall holders and over 400 guests, including women, men and children from the wider community, including not only Cardiff but Newport as well.
Both Lord Mayor Cllr Monica Walsh and Leader of the House and Chief Whip Jane Hutt AM took time out of their busy programmes and attended the event.
The Choice table and banners just before the event opened.
Margaret Flynn Public Lecture
We were delighted with the fantastic response to the lecture given by Dr Margaret Flynn on 22nd March. The title of the talk was, "The imperfect art of safeguarding: learning from two reviews".
There was an excellent turnout from a very appreciative audience made up of practitioners from a wide range of disciplines, members of the public and university staff.
The subject matter was institutional abuse at Winterbourne View hospital and the neglect of older people living in care homes in Gwent, investigated as Operation Jasmine.
Margaret delivered an insightful lecture on both reviews, which was thought-provoking and balanced, and highlighted the horrific and worrying aspects of both cases.
Some of the lessons she highlighted from the two reviews were:
- Concerned and curious vigilance matters
- Faith in promises to reform has a poor track record
- Too often, “Wait and see” = too little too late
- Scandals fix nothing permanently
- Citizens cannot rely on the conscience of care home owners to deliver valued care and support to frail older people
- Grouping older people with dementia together in particular homes, without sufficient staff who are adequately managed, trained and supervised, is assumed, without evidence, to be acceptable practice on the grounds that they all have similar needs
The link below allow you to listen to Margaret’s lecture and the Q&A afterwards, and view the slides she used at the same time.
Pictured below, Margaret (R) talking with Eurwen Booth (L) one of the project volunteers and Jeremy Newman, Project Coordinator.
Pictured below, Margaret with two of our student volunteers who helped on the evening.
L to R: Helen Holt, Margaret Flynn & Afsaneh Shahrokh.
Dr Margaret Flynn is Chair of the National Independent Safeguarding Board in Wales and the joint editor of the Journal of Adult Protection and has a wealth of knowledge of adult safeguarding.
She undertook the serious case review into the physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour at Winterbourne View Hospital in south Gloucestershire.
In December 2013, she was commissioned by the First Minister of Wales to undertake a review of the neglect of older people living in care homes in Gwent, investigated as Operation Jasmine.
Research in Practice for Adults Conference
The project attended the RiPfA, ‘Strengths-based social care practice with older people: Partnership Conference on 16th March.
Sarah, Rebecca and one of our volunteers, Eurwen Booth, helped to run a workshop with Dr Lucy Knight, on the subject of ‘Working with abuse in a strengths based way’.
L to R – Sarah Wydall & Rebecca Zerk
Our team looked specifically at how best to support older people to access justice.
The team found the day very interesting and thought-provoking, with a range of excellent presentations from speakers such as Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker, Dr Alisoun Milne, Jeremy Porteus, Dr Lucy Knight, Prof Jill Manthorpe, Imogen Blood and the Chair of the event, Dez Holmes, from RiPfA.
Below - Imogen Blood – talking on, 'Risk enablement and assets based work with older people’.
Below – Dr Alisoun Milne, talking on the importance of good social work with older people.
Dyfed Powys Police & Crime Commissioner conference on 'Criminalising coercive control: increasing protection for victims'.
The project was very pleased to have been invited by Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys, to present at this seminar, held on St David's Day, March 1st.
The keynote speaker was Prof. Evan Stark, who originally coined the phrase, ‘coercive control’, and who played a major role in the consultation with the UK government that led to the drafting of the offence of coercive control.
Sarah presented on, ‘Domestic abuse and older people – a case of a few surprises’.
A copy of Sarah's presentation can be downloaded by following this link:
Coercive control presentation
Other speakers included Eleri Butler, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid, John Lloyd, CPS Wales and Sarah, a victim-survivor of coercive control.
Presenters at the conference:
Left to right: Prof. Evan Stark, Dafydd Llywelyn, Eleri Butler, Sarah, Sarah Wydall, John Lloyd
Dr Margaret Flynn - Public talk in Aberystwyth
Public lecture by Dr Margaret Flynn
The Centre for the Study of Ageing, Abuse and Neglect at Aberystwyth University, is delighted to announce that Dr Margaret Flynn will be giving a public talk in Aberystwyth on the evening of Weds 22nd March 2017.
The title of the talk is, "The imperfect art of safeguarding: learning from two reviews"
- The presentation considers the review concerning Winterbourne
- It introduces some familiar themes arising from such reviews
- It highlights the challenges concerning the duty to report.
Dr Flynn is Chair of the National Independent Safeguarding Board in Wales and the joint editor of the Journal of Adult Protection and has a wealth of knowledge of adult safeguarding.
She undertook the serious case review into the physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour at Winterbourne View Hospital in south Gloucestershire.
In December 2013, she was commissioned by the First Minister of Wales to undertake a review of the neglect of older people living in care homes in Gwent, investigated as Operation Jasmine.
Details of the talk:
Date & time: Weds 22nd March at 6.30pm.
Location: Elystan Morgan Building, Primrose Hill, Llanbadarn campus, Aberystwyth,
The talk will last approximately 45 minutes with a Q&A session afterwards.
Tea & coffee will be served from 6pm.
To allow us to have a clear idea of numbers likely to attend, please register your interest on Eventbrite by following the link below or email Jeremy Newman, Research Project Coordinator on email@example.com
Cardiff launch January 25th 2017
We were all delighted to be able to officially launch the project in Cardiff on Weds Jan 25th, with a presentation to practitioners, partner agencies and organisations from within the statutory and third-sectors and some of our volunteers.
It was a wonderful opportunity to remind everyone why we felt there was such a strong need for the Choice project in the first place together with an update on where we are now.
Previous research - please visit the Research pages of this website to see links to relevant, previous reports from members of the project team.
Launch presentation - Rebecca Zerk and Sarah Wydall from the project presented to the meeting. They covered not just the previous research but also outlined the project objectives, our partner organisations, examples of the awareness raising activities, publicity campaigns and use of social media. Also that we use volunteers and have held focus groups looking at positive ageing and healthy relationships in later life. They also outlined how we will share our learnings at the end of the project.
You can watch the presentation by Sarah if you follow this link:
Choice Support Worker - we introduced our Choice Support Worker, Carmel Boston, seen below with Sarah Wydall.
Carmel has been doing a fantastic job visiting community groups across Cardiff, raising awareness of the project and liaising with Social Services and the police. She is now looking forward to working with clients, ensuring they are fully aware of the options open to them and involved in all decisions made.
Pictured below Sarah Wydall (L) and Carmel Boston (R).
Guest speakers – thanks to both Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, and Bernie Bowen-Thomson, joint CEO of Safer Wales for speaking to the meeting.
A number of people commented afterwards on how aspects of the speech given by Sarah Rochira made them appreciate more than they had previously, just how complex it is dealing with elder abuse. The section of Sarah’s speech that really hit home was where she speculated, 'how far would my son have to go (if he were abusing her), before I reported him?’
We will be working closely in the Cardiff area with Safer Wales, and would like to thank them for their support and the use of their offices for the launch meeting.
Thanks to the Big Lottery!!
We also took the opportunity in Cardiff to say a public ‘thank you’ to the Big Lottery for their significant funding of the project – to the sum of £890,000. Below are Sarah Rochira and Alan Clarke (Choice project) displaying the cheque!
The cake - We are also grateful to Charis Cakes, Cardiff for donating the Dewis Choice cake, which is seen below in the safe hands of (from L to R), John Williams, Sarah Wydall and Alan Clarke, (all Choice project), before being cut up by three of our volunteers and eaten by the guests!
Age Speaks radio show
February 16th 2017
The Dewis Choice Project’s Sarah Wydall was recently a guest on the Age Speaks radio show,
hosted by East London Radio (ELR), with gerontologist Mervyn Eastman. Age Speaks is a weekly, pre-recorded talk show, hosted by Mervyn, where he discusses issues related to age and ageing.
Please follow the link to listen to the whole show: https://www.mixcloud.com/EastLondonRadio/age-speaks-meets-sarah-wydall/
Sarah discusses the innovative work of the Choice Project and the research behind it.
Sarah also talks of the tireless work of individuals and agencies working in the field of domestic abuse and elder abuse, who support the work of the project.
The range of topics covered, and times within the programme where you can find them discussed, are as follows:
The work of Hafan Cymru – Starts at 10 mins 30 secs
The findings of the ‘Access to Justice’ study – Starts at 12 mins 50 secs
Access to Justice and Services - Starts at 21 mins 30 secs
Older People’s Ageing Network (OPAN) - Starts at 23 mins
Crimes against, and abuse of, older people in Wales.
Study commissioned by Sarah Rochira, the Older people’s Commissioner for Wales - Starts at 25 mins 50 secs
The role of the Choice Support Worker - Starts at 28 mins 50 secs
Working with Social Services in Cardiff & Carmarthenshire - Starts at 32 mins
Support options available – restorative, criminal, civil and welfare - Starts at 33 mins 30 secs
How the project used design groups and community members - Starts at 39 mins 50 secs
Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) - Starts at 41 mins 40 secs
Mental capacity issues and the use of advocates - Starts at 44 mins
Male victims –Starts at 48 mins
Why elder abuse victims are reluctant to criminalise family members - Starts at 50 mins
Older People and Activism – Starts at 58 mins
Criminalising elder abuse - Starts at 1 hour & 4 mins
Healthy Relationships in later life - Starts at 1 hour & 0 mins
Safeguarding and Domestic Violence in Wales - Starts at 1 hour & 9 mins
Going forward with the Choice project - Starts at 1 hour & 11 mins
Sarah Bainbridge February 3rd 2017
I cannot believe where the last four weeks have gone, and feel a little sad that my placement has come to an end, although I will continue to volunteer for the project in the future.
I have learnt so much from my short time here, not just about the aims of the project, and the administration involved with running this type of project, but also about the many, often complex issues surrounding elder abuse, and of all the various agencies that work with older people.
I would like to thank the team for making me feel welcome, and for putting up with my endless tirade of questions (and for drinking all their coffee). The knowledge and experience I have gained throughout the last four weeks, from the team and other professionals I have met, has been invaluable to me. I have come across such passion in the people I have met, which has been contagious, and I aim to strive forward in my career with as much passion as those I have worked with.
During my third week at the project, I mostly helped the team get ready for the launch in Cardiff, which took place on Wednesday 25th at the Safer Wales offices.
It was a wonderful event that I was both honoured and proud to be a part of (despite the very early start), and which I enjoyed immensely. I found it awe inspiring to listen to the team and both guest speakers talk about what the project means to themselves, service providers, policy makers and of course, most importantly for older people in Wales.
After the presentation it was really nice to meet and talk to some of the service providers and professionals, and it was wonderful to watch so many different agencies come together to support the project, forming close partnerships that are essential for effective practice. Please keep an eye open on the website for a full report of the launch day, to be posted in the next few days.
The wonderful cake (pictured below) was kindly donated by Charis Cakes, Cardiff.
Restorative Approaches – Family Group Conferences
Written by Sarah Bainbridge
This week, I attended the Family Group Conference (FGC) Training, which was run from the Safer Wales office in Cardiff, and is an accredited course. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on this course and met some really fantastic people, who were both very knowledgeable in their own fields and extremely friendly and supportive as a group.
I have learnt so much about elder abuse, domestic violence, mental health and the many issues surrounding these, and also how these can impact on family, friends and neighbours. I have written a brief outline of the training below, which I hope is interesting and useful for any other volunteers and/or practitioners, who may consider taking up this training in the future.
Day 1 – Tuesday 17th January
After brief introductions, our trainer, Linda Tapper, discussed the history of FGC and how it evolved from primarily being for youth services to encompass other aspects, such as vulnerable adults. We were told how it can enable family members to communicate with each other, especially if there has been conflict or issues of safety and concern. We discussed what and who is involved, and the process of co-ordinating an FGC, especially the time consuming in-depth preparation that needs to take place. After discussion on the potential issues and pit falls of preparing an FGC and the best practice, we looked at partnership working, managing conflict and issues of mental capacity.
Day 2 – Wednesday 18th January
Today we discussed what constitutes abuse and the scenarios most common in FGC’s. We also went into detail on the role and responsibility of the FGC co-ordinator, through to the initial meeting of the referrer, older person and their family members. We were given a completed referral form to study and make notes on, to form the basis of our big role play for the following day.
We each took turns to be the co-ordinator first meeting the referrer, and then the older person. This was a really good exercise to get us thinking of all the different types of information and tact needed to facilitate an effective FGC. At the end of the day, we were randomly assigned roles based on the referral form, with a small brief as to our ‘character’ for us to prepare for the FGC role play.
Day 3 – Thursday 19th January
Today we arrived at the training room ‘in character’ ready to start the FGC. The trainer was assigned the co-ordinator role and explained to us all about the FGC (as family/older person). Even though everyone was really nervous about doing the role play, everyone got right into character and we all thought it went really well. It also showed us how the dynamics of such meetings can be very changeable, especially once the ‘family’ enters ‘private family time’ discussions.
Once we had all been debriefed from the FGC and had discussed our feelings, thoughts etc, we watched a short DVD of another role play FGC. We then looked at recording the outcomes of the FGC, including guidelines on writing up the action plan, the layout and the review meeting. We closed the training with some valuable group discussions on our thoughts and feelings on FGC, which were quite positive.
On behalf of the Choice project I would like to thank Linda Tapper, for delivering an interesting and informative training course, and to Safer Wales, for the kind use of their facilities.
For more information on Adult Family Group Conferences, please contact Linda Tapper www.adultfgctraining.uk.
To learn more about Safer Wales please visit www.saferwales.com.
Group photograph from training course below.
Initial Thoughts From A New Starter
11th January 2017.
My name is Sarah and I will be working with the Choice project team on a full time basis over the next four weeks, as part of an Aberystwyth University Graduate placement scheme. This placement was made available to me after graduating last summer with a Criminology degree from Aberystwyth University. I am really excited and honoured to be part of this innovative project as it highlights a very real issue, which the team are addressing.
My personal aims during my time here, are to learn as much as possible about both the Choice project itself and also to learn about some of the real issues older people come up against when dealing with circumstances of abuse and their struggle to gain a sense of justice.
I also aim to take the knowledge I gain back to my own community, to help continue raising public awareness of elder abuse. I will also write an update at the end of each week, with some (hopefully) interesting insights that I have gained throughout the week.
I have already learnt so much in my first week. Such as how abuse can take on many different forms, such as financial abuse and also of neglect. It is worrying how easy it can be for abuse to go largely ignored or unnoticed, especially if there are to be no criminal actions taken. A real issue that the Choice team are investigating.
I will be attending the Family Group Conference training course in Cardiff next week, so keep an eye out for my blog towards the end of next week to see how I got on. I will also endeavour to send updates via the project Twitter page @choiceolderppl throughout the training.
Written by: Sarah Bainbridge
Community engagement and publicising the project
There has been a great deal of activity recently as Sarah, Rebecca, Carmel and Elize have all been ‘on the road’ in London and Cardiff, engaging with local community groups, promoting the work of the project, supporting activity around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, (IDEVAW), White Ribbon events and attending the AEA Cymru conference.
The activities they have been involved in were:
Monday 21st November – AEA Cymru Conference, Cardiff
Elize attended the first AEA Cymru conference, which was held in City Hall, Cardiff.
The theme of the conference was, ‘Financially safe and secure? Working together to protect older people from financial abuse’.
Speakers in the morning included Dr Margaret Flynn, Chair of the National Independent Safeguarding Board of Wales; Ian Thomas, CEO Age Cymru; Rebecca Evans AM, Minister for Social Services and Public Health; Gary Fitzgerald, CEO, AEA; Eleri Butler, CEO Welsh Women’s Aid and Tony Neate, CEO, Get Safe Online.
A panel discussion was held examining some of the core concerns around financial abuse and a series of workshops were conducted in the afternoon before a final presentation by Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales and the closing remarks from Dr Margaret Flynn.
Rachael Nicholson-Wright, the AEA Cymru director kindly let us include an information sheet on the Choice project in the delegate packs.
Pictured L to R – Rachael Nicholson-Wright (AEA Cymru), Sarah Rochira (OPC for Wales) and Dr Margaret Flynn
November 22nd – Senedd, Cardiff IDEVAW event
Carmel and Elize attended a National Federation of Women’s Institutes - Wales cross-party event at the Senedd, sponsored by Joyce Watson AM, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
There were a number of interesting speakers dealing with a wide range of topics. Denise Puckett shared her experiences of being a domestic abuse survivor, who was upported by a workplace policy. Rebecca Walters, from the Admiral Group, highlighted the importance of domestic violence training in the workplace and Andrew White from Stonewall talked about the experiences of the LGBT community in accessing domestic abuse services.
Pictured L to R are Carmel and Elize:
A group shot from the event:
November 23rd – AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) seminar
Sarah and Rebecca attended and presented at a seminar on ‘Older women – invisible victims of gender based violence and abuse’, organised by AVA (Against Violence and Abuse), in London.
Their presentation was on, ‘Barriers and enablers to help-seeking and engagement for victim-survivors of domestic violence and abuse’.
Pictured L to R: Sarah and Rebecca ready to present!
Information on the seminar and copies of the presentations given by all the speakers can be found on the following website:
It was a great opportunity to share some of the learning and experience gained from research carried out over previous years on a number of aspects of elder abuse.
Sarah and Rebecca were proud to have contributed to the ‘Domestic Homicide Review – Case Analysis’ report produced by Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, (STADV), a link to which is below:
November 24th – Sarah was a guest on the Age Speaks radio show
Sarah was the guest on the Age Speaks radio show, hosted by East London Radio (ELR), with gerontologist Mervyn Eastman. Mervyn was the first academic to use the term elder abuse and is very interested in the participatory aspect of our research.
Age Speaks is a weekly, pre-recorded talk show, hosted by Mervyn, where he discusses issues related to age and ageing. The show featuring Sarah will be broadcast soon and we will update when it has aired.
Mervyn was instrumental in helping to found and run Change Agents, which is a co-operative community benefit society.
Mervyn uses the Age Speaks show to promote the Change Agents, and hence, a more positive narrative about growing older.
November 25th - International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) – White Ribbon Day
Candle lit walk – Cardiff
More information of the IDEVAW can be found on the United Nations website, following the link below:
Sarah, Rebecca and Carmel joined many other people on the walk to Llandaff Cathedral, in support of White Ribbon Day.
Our two youngest volunteers, Neave and Erin, produced the banners that Sarah, Rebecca and Carmel held on the walk.
November 25th - Workshop with Women Connect First
Sarah, Rebecca and Carmel carried out a workshop discussing positive ageing and healthy relationships in later life with members of Women Connect First and their Golden Years project.
Women Connect First was established in March 2001 to empower Black & Minority Ethnic women (BME) in Cardiff and South East Wales by offering a range of services and training in order to improve livlihoods and employability.
The organisation has moved on since, expanding its services.
At present they cater for a wider client group and offer a range of services including advice, advocacy, counselling and a wide range of training programmes and volunteering opportunities amongst others.
They target disadvantaged, isolated and marginalised communities, who are experiencing multiple layers of depravation, discrimination and exclusion in accessing services and employment.
The Golden Years project is aimed at finding ways of addressing the economic and social issues faced by older BME women, in an integrated way.
Monday 28th Nov - Concourse of Heath hospital Cardiff. Monday.
Carmel spent time on the Cardiff Women’s Aid stand, raising awareness of the Choice project and talking to people about healthy relationships in later life. This was also part of the wider activity surrounding the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Pictured L to R: Carmel and a Women’s Aid supporter
3rd October 2016
Support Worker, Carmel Boston, begins work on the Choice Project.
We are delighted that Carmel Boston, the first of our two Support Workers has joined the Choice team.
Pic: Carmel Boston
Carmel will spend up to 18 months working with older people in Cardiff who are victims of abuse in their own home. A second Choice Support Worker will be appointed to work in Carmarthenshire in January 2017.
The Support Workers will discuss with victims the different courses of action open to them – including pursuing a case in the criminal courts, seeking redress in a civil court or adopting a restorative practice approach.
The Cardiff Support Worker will be based in the offices of Safer Wales, a charity which has been working with victims of domestic abuse for the past 20 years.
The Co-CEO of Safer Wales, Barbara Natasegara, said: “Elder abuse is something that is happening on a daily basis here in Wales, yet many older people are still unaware of how to find support, or that such help even exists. At Safer Wales, we work with the most vulnerable people in society every day, and elderly victims of abuse represent a worrying proportion of those people.
“We are delighted to be working alongside the Choice project to develop a new approach to support for elderly victims of abuse and their families, and ultimately to work towards putting a stop to elder abuse altogether.”
The Choic project is also working closely with other organisations including Cardiff Social Services, Carmarthenshire Social Services, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Women’s Aid, Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police.
The link below is to the full press release on this story.
October 2nd 2016 – Cardiff half marathon
Written by Jeremy Newman – Choice project research coordinator.
Well, having decided in the spring of 2016 that I wanted to get fit again after 25 years of inactivity, I was then motivated by a tweet from Age Cymru urging people to run the Cardiff half marathon in October and raise money for them. As we have been working with them on the project, it seemed a perfect combination and cause for which to raise money.
My friends, family and colleagues were incredibly generous and I raised just over £850 in donations for Age Cymru – for which I am immensely grateful to them all.
In mid-April I started going circuit training a couple of times a week. Some running shoes were purchased and I took my first baby steps as a runner in the middle of May. I try and ‘do’ the 5k Aber Park Run on Saturday mornings, which is a great way to start the weekend. I steadily built up my running training throughout the summer and completed a couple of 10 mile runs in early and mid-September, and felt good going into the race on 2nd October.
Everyone I spoke to who had completed the Cardiff race before said what a fantastic occasion it was – and they were spot on. The weather was wonderful – clear and sunny, which did mean that at the water stations I tipped as much over my head as I drank. The atmosphere generated by the crowds was electric and they were so supportive to all the runners, not just people like me who were running for just about every charity you could imagine.
There were some entertaining runners on the course – various super heroes and a three-legged clown, which although he / they overtook me at one point, I managed to get past them before the finish!!
The sights on the course were excellent – particularly running out through Penarth marina and over the Cardiff Bay barrage. The hill at 12 miles was not so welcome though – short and steep, so I ran up part of it and then walked the last bit.
After you approach the finish line the support and noise is even greater, and once you cross the finish line there is plenty of help and support and I have never seen so many bananas stacked up in boxes waiting to be handed out!
I hoped to finish the race is under 2 hours 30 mins and was so pleased to do it in just over 2 hours and 25 minutes – incentive to go faster next time!
The facilities in the Runners Village were so well organised and it was great to meet some of the Age Cymru staff who were manning their tent. The post-run burger and drink went down very well.
Photographic evidence that I was really there!
16th September 2016
50+ Forum AGM – National Botanic Garden of Wales
As a volunteer with the Choice Project I was invited to help Jeremy host a stand at the 50+ Forum AGM event on 16th September at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
We decorated the Choice stand with information and leaflets about the project, partner agencies and other organisations offering support to individuals experiencing abuse.
We asked visitors to the stand if they were happy to fill in a small questionnaire posing the two questions:
The thing/s I value most in close relationships as I get older is/are.
If someone close to me was causing me harm or distress, who would I confide in?
Visitors to the stand were encouraged to fill in their responses to these questions in return for a dip into the large bowl of sweets, kept well stocked on the table. The response was overwhelming, with over 160 recorded visitors to the stand and 91 question slips filled in.
People were keen to know more about the project and the issues facing those experiencing domestic abuse in older age. Several people shared their experiences of supporting family members and friends experiencing abuse, whilst others were genuinely shocked at the scale of the issue. The response to the project was extremely positive, with visitors enthusiastic about the person centred approach.
I enjoyed the day, in particular meeting and talking to so many interesting people and hearing their stories of the challenges and the joys of ageing (and their fashion tips, but I will be keeping those to myself).
Written by Elize Freeman.
September 1st, 2016
Senior Research Fellow and Co-Principal Investigator, Sarah Wydall joins Oliver Hides and Peter Johnson on BBC Radio Wales to discuss the importance of ensuring high quality restorative justice practices in cases of elder abuse. The interview was a response to a report by MPs that recommended all victims of crime should have a legal right to restorative justice. For full radio programme visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07pk9f5#play
Mid August 2016
Local papers in Carmarthenshire ran an article celebrating the, ‘golden years’, as Choice wanted to emphasise that it’s about time we celebrated the wisdom, experience and joy that comes with older age.
We asked for help from readers in gathering information to champion the cause of the older generation as the project looks at increasing choices for people in difficult family circumstances. We were looking for families with stories to tell who might share them with us.
Sarah Wydall was quoted, “Society tells us that younger is better. We at the Choice project reject this view. The golden years can be just as rewarding and exciting as the teenage years. We believe that with age comes wisdom, experience, joy and life skills, which should be celebrated. We promote a positive attitude towards ageing and highlight the contribution older people make to society and the value and fun they bring to their extended families. We at Dewis Choice want to learn more about older people, their families and communities.”
Professor Alan Clarke also commented, “As we move into older age we face many different transitions in life that can be both challenging and rewarding. These range from retirement, changes in physical and mental health, reduced availability of services and family support.”
Professor John Williams said, “It is recognised that families of all ages, experience good and bad times. Relationships are not always as positive or rewarding as everyone would wish and so few health and wellbeing campaigns focus on what people over the age of 60 value in their relationships with family members.”
Carmarthenshire County Council’s executive board member for social care and health, Cllr Jane Tremlett said, “I am very pleased to support the valuable work the Dewis Choice project is carrying out across Carmarthenshire by helping older people and their families who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships.
“The project team are carrying out important research work that will lead to better provision for and a better understanding of the problems that can beset families with older members.
“Appreciating what makes for positive and healthy relationship within families as we grow older will help the project team with their work so I encourage people to contact them and share their experiences.”
The link below takes you to the article that appeared in the on-line edition of the South Wales Guardian.
July 26th and August 9th
Dyfed-Powys Police briefing sessions
At four separate briefing sessions in Carmarthen and Llanelli, Sarah, Rebecca, John and Jeremy met and briefed nearly 30 officers and PCSO’s from the Carmarthenshire section of the force to brief them on Choice and answer any questions.
The sessions were very well attended, lively, informative and we hope useful, and would like to thank all who organised them and attended.
Below are Jeremy & John (in shirts & ties) with members of the Llanelli Neighbourhood Policing Team.
July 11th to 13th
Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron Secondary school – work placement experience
The Dept of Law & Criminology welcomed Heledd Haf Evans and Hannah Williams from year 10, on a three-day work placement in the department. The girls worked with the Choice project for two days and with law lecturer, Richard Ireland, for one day.
Left to right - Sarah Wydall, Hannah Williams, Rebecca Zerk and Heledd Haf Evans.
Whilst working with Choice, the girls produced a very impressive summary of how the media represent older people generally and how elder abuse is reported, creating a 5-page document highlighting the key elements.
They also started work on our ‘Tree of contacts’, as we want to create a visual representation of the many people we have been in contact with on the project. In a short space of time they created a very impressive tree on which we will build over the life of the project.
Left to right - Heledd, the tree and Hannah
We are grateful to both Heledd and Hannah for their help this week and to Mrs Rhian Davies from the school for contacting us about the placement and making the arrangements.
July 11th 2016
Presentation to Llansteffan WI meeting
In Sept 2015 some of the members of the Llansteffan WI met Rebecca and Jeremy from the project at the 50+ Forum AGM held at the Botanical Gardens just outside Carmarthen. They were interested in the project and invited us to attend their meeting in July to present the project to a wider group of their members.
Jeremy attended the meeting held on Monday 11th and presented the outline of the project together with the main aims and objectives to approximately 25 members of the group. The presentation was well received and some thought provoking questions asked. There were also a number of interesting discussions with people after the presentation, who all saw the Choice project as valuable and worthwhile.
Jeremy was also very grateful for the warm reception he received, the cups of tea and chocolate biscuits offered (and consumed)!
Many thanks to Mrs Una Davies for the invite to attend and the Committee and members who attended on Monday.
June 29th 2016
Cardiff Design group meet
The Design Group met for the first time at the end of June.
The volunteer group is comprised of members of the public and statutory agencies and initially discussed what they feel constitutes healthy relationships in later life. The group also discussed their views and thoughts on the wider topic of elder abuse and why it may be that older people experiencing abuse do not always seek help and assistance.
The group were also introduced to the principles of restorative approaches which will be followed up and explored in more details over the next few months.
Some members of the group at the meeting on June 29th
Many thanks to Susan Schelewa, Operational Manager, Adult Social Services, City of Cardiff for her help in arranging the use of one of the meeting rooms for this session.
June 16th 2016
On Thursday 16th June, Alan and Jeremy from the Choice project team, together with Jane Shaw, one of our volunteers, spent a very interesting and enjoyable couple of hours meeting some of the pupils and staff from the Rhyd y Gors school in Carmarthen.
The Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, (the Welsh language theatre of Wales) arranged the meeting, as they have been visiting the school on a regular basis for a number of months, exploring artistic avenues with a group of pupils.
The theatre has recently performed a play – Mrs Reynolds a’r cena bach – Mrs Reynolds and the ruffian, where Jay, a 17 year old boy vandalises Mrs Reynolds garden, and is forced to go back and spend time with Mrs Reynolds, working to restore the damage he has caused. The play explores the tensions that exist between them at the beginning, and how they develop a friendship as they get to know each other better.
The theatre were aware of the Choice project and the work we are doing working with older people and we felt it would be a good opportunity to meet some of the pupils who had seen the play and discuss their views on older people, their thoughts on the play and wider issues around younger and older people.
It was very informative and the pupils highlighted both positive and negative aspects of growing older, which the project team could well appreciate!
We also showed images of older people engaged in activities such as skateboarding, marathon running, gymnastics, cycling, exercising and working as a DJ. We also had images of young people doing exactly the same activities to highlight the fact that young and old can both enjoy doing the same things.
Our thanks to the theatre and the school for arranging the visit.
May 4th 2016
Aberystwyth University Law and Criminology academic wins award for feminist scholarship
Sarah Wydall from the Department of Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth University is one of three female scholars to receive one of the first Audrey Jones Memorial Awards for Feminist Scholarship.
The new annual research awards are presented in memory of Audrey Jones, a Welsh woman who campaigned for women’s rights across the world.
Picture - Audrey Jones
Sarah Wydall, who works at the University’s Centre for the Study of Ageing, Abuse and Neglect, was presented with the award for her work on ‘Choice’, a Big Lottery project focusing on justice and elder abuse. The three and a half-year long project which runs until 2018 is working in partnership with national charities such as Age Cymru, Hafan Cymru and Welsh Women’s Aid.
The Audrey Jones Memorial Awards for Feminist Scholarship were presented by Welsh Government Finance Minister Jane Hutt at the annual Wales Assembly of Women conference held at Cardiff University on Saturday 30 April 2016.
On being presented with the award Sarah said: “I am delighted to have been awarded this Memorial Prize. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my research to the Wales Assembly of Women Annual Conference. Audrey Jones was an inspirational woman and it is a great honour to be one of the first to receive the award.”
In presenting the awards Jane Hutt, a long-standing member of Wales Assembly of Women, said: “Audrey Jones fought tirelessly for women’s rights and would have been delighted with the purposeful scholarship demonstrated here today in her memory.”
Audrey Jones represented Wales on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and contributed to UN consultations and debates on women’s rights across the world. She died in 2014 aged 84. Up until she retired in 1990 she was deputy head of St Cyres Comprehensive School in Penarth, where she had taught since 1960.
Jane Hutt also requested copies of the research to be sent to her so as she could share them with Welsh Government.
Wales Assembly of Women chair Dr Jackie Jones said: “We are delighted that Jane Hutt wants to share the work of the recipients of our new awards with Welsh Government. It is our hope that these new awards will provide an opportunity for women to raise important issues that may eventually inform and underpin future policy in Wales.”
Wales Assembly of Women conference organiser Dr Jane Salisbury said: “Audrey was always interested to hear about the research of my students. She was incredibly frustrated that far too many research findings remain in dissertations and theses where only a privileged few have access to them. We are delighted to have provided a new platform for female scholars to share their work and ideas.”
The 2016 Audrey Jones Memorial Awards for Feminist Scholarship were presented to:
- Undertaking transformative research with victim-survivors of elder abuse: A story of feminist praxis in Wales.
The Dewis/Choice Project. Sarah Wydall, Aberystwyth University.
- Breakfast and Brains: Implications for girls in Wales. Hannah Littlecott, Cardiff University.
- Class, Motherhood and Mature Studentship - (Re)Constructing and (Re)negotiating Subjectivity. Melanie Morgan, Cardiff University.
Photo: L to R: The three award winners
Hannah Littlecott, Sarah Wydall and Melanie Morgan, with Welsh Government Finance Minister Jane Hutt
Please follow this link to download the presentation Sarah gave at the awards ceremony in Cardiff.
About the Wales Assembly of Women
The Wales Assembly of Women is an independent organisation for women in Wales. It is an NGO accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Its representatives have attended every major U.N. world conference for women since Nairobi in 1985. Membership is open to all women in Wales and to women living elsewhere who have connections with Wales. It is a campaigning organisation for women’s rights and receives no public money. It is funded by the membership and charity grants.
Is violent crime increasing?
A lecture by Professor Sylvia Walby
In early April, the Choice Team went to London to attend the Eve Saville lecture by Professor Sylvia Walby, organised by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. Professor Walby's colleagues, Professor Brian Francis and Dr Jude Towers, also attended the lecture. Research lead, Sarah Wydall provides an outline of the lecture.
What was discussed?
The Government and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) say violent crime is decreasing. However, using the data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) produced by the ONS, Prof. Walby demonstrated that since 2009 violent crime (excluding murder, but including rape), is on the increase in England and Wales. The data showed that violence against the person is gendered and women are predominantly the victims.
Professor Walby used the raw data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales rather than the published data. The CSEW survey is the largest victimisation study in the UK based on 30,000-40,000 respondents. The methodology used by Walby to interrogate the data showed that whilst the number of victims has not changed, the number of violent incidences against the victim has gone up by 70%.
How did Prof Walby do this?
The ONS who developed the CSEW, only counts up to five incidences of violence against one victim per year, irrespective of whether a victim has experienced far more than five incidences of violence against them. This process of only counting a certain number of ‘repeats’ is known as capping
Prof. Walby and her colleagues reject the justification of capping.
The ONS justified capping initially by stating:
- There was only a very small number of repeat victimisation (ONS 2013)
- Prof. Walby examined the ONS data from 1994-2014, highlighting the importance of accuracy.
Prof. Walby argues that repeat victimisation which is experienced by 3.5-6.6% of respondents is not small, given the CSEW sample size of between 30, 000 and 40, 000 respondents. The capping process masks the impact of repeat victimisation of a significant number of people.
By removing the cap from the CSEW data, Prof Walby demonstrated that violence against the person which involved repeat victimisation involving family members is on the increase.
The effects of removing the cap:
- The total amount of violent crime goes up by 60%, perpetrated by a stranger (20%); by a domestic relation (70%); by an acquaintance (100%)
- Violence against women, uncapped (70%); Violence against men, uncapped (50%)
Prof. Walby points out that violence crime increased from 2009 in line with the economic crisis. It is important to note that the frequency of crimes against the victim increases not the number of victims. The findings challenge the traditional assumptions of: one crime, one victim, and one perpetrator. Prof. Walby suggests that there is a need to mainstream repeat victimisation which involves family members and acquaintances where the crime is gendered and women are predominantly the victims.
NOTE- The ONS is currently revising the capping methodology as the process distorts the true measure of recorded violence against the person.
Interested in learning more?
Professor Walby based her lecture on an article she co-authored with Professor Francis and Dr Towers in the British Journal of Criminology.
The article can be downloaded for free via this link:
A transcript of Professor Walby's speech will be available in due course. We will place it on our website when it available.
8th March 2016
On International Women’s Day – The Choice Team are invited to the launch of the Sussex Elders’ Commission report at the Houses of Westminster
Katy Bourne, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Sussex had read about our Choice project in a recent addition of ‘Prom’, the Aber Alumni magazine. Katy Bourne was so impressed by the initiative and our research that she contacted the team and invited them to the launch of the Sussex Elders’ Commissioners report in Parliament.
Prof Alan Clarke and Sarah Wydall took the trip to London to hear about the valuable work carried out by the Elders’ Commission. A copy of the report can be found here http://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/elders-commission/
The Choice team are currently liaising with PCC Katy Bourne to explore joint working opportunities.
Sarah Wydall, Senior Research Fellow commented, ‘Alan and I were enormously impressed by the important work undertaken by the Elders’ Commission members in supporting their communities, I really enjoyed talking to them about their report and sharing our experiences of our volunteer work in Wales when engaging with local communities ’.
Sarah Wydall at the launch of the report.
December 10th 2015
Sarah Rochira, the Older People's Commissioner for Wales, highlighting the fact that there are more than 30,000 people aged over 60 in Wales who are victims of domestic abuse, and refers to the really good research being carried out in this field, with Aberystwyth University just starting to look at how we can provide better family support (for victims and their families).
The link to the BBC Wales news article is below:
Jill Manthorpe blog
Jill Manthorpe is Professor of Social Work at King's College London and Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit.
She recently blogged about a paper that John Willams, Alan Clarke and Sarah Wydall published:
Clarke, A., Williams, J. and Wydall, S. (2015) Access to Justice for Victims/Survivors of Elder Abuse: A Qualitative Study. Social Policy and Society, available on CJO2015. doi:10.1017/S1474746415000202
A link to the blog is below, together with a PDF version of the blog which you can download.
Jill Manthorpe blog posted Nov 10th about the findings from the 'Access to Justice' evaluation carried out by John Williams, Alan Clarke & Sarah Wydall, Dept of Law & Criminology, Aberystwyth University.
Building Justice Options with Older People in Wales
The project held a very successful launch conference in Carmarthen on Thursday Oct 22nd 2015, attended by over 80 people.
The morning session was a series of interesting and enlightening presentations from the people shown below, together with the title of their presentation. Below the title is a link so that you can download the presentation slides or speech.
We hope to include all the presentations soon, so please check back again in the future.
- Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
‘Standing up for older people: ensuring they are protected and have access to justice’
Edited highlights of the speech given by Sarah Rochira, Older People's Commissioner for Wales, at the Choice project conference in Carmarthen on Oct 22nd 2015.
- Professor John Williams, Head of the Department of law & Criminology, Aberystwyth University
‘Research findings from the ‘Access to Justice’ pilot project evaluation’
Summary of key findings from the 'Access to Justice' evaluation
- ‘An introduction to restorative approaches and principles’
Restorative Approaches presentation at Carmarthen conference Oct 2015
- Rebecca Zerk, Researcher, Choice Project
‘Domestic abuse in later life: barriers to disclosure’
Domestic abuse in later life - barriers to disclosure
- Sarah Wydall, Senior Research Fellow, Choice project
‘Choice – Building Justice Options with Older People’
Choice project - Building justice options with older people
There was a question and answer session following the presentations, at which all those who presented, together with Professor Alan Clarke, co-investigator on the Choice project, answered questions from delegates.
In the afternoon the delegates broke into 6 working groups, with each group discussing one of these three topics:
- Intergenerational relationships
- Solutions to elder abuse in the home
- Restorative approaches
Each group then fed back to the main conference the key themes, issues and possible solutions discussed. This provided the project with some extremely illuminating and helpful feedback.
The afternoon was completed with a final presentation by:
- Eleri Butler, MBE, CEO Welsh Women’s Aid on, ‘Preventing domestic abuse and accessing support – the role of specialist services’.
- Presentation by Eleri Butler at the Choice conference on 22nd Oct 2015