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Our charity

Our story

Our founding trustees established a multi-agency partnership in Oxfordshire in 2003 to tackle domestic abuse. They were motivated by the need to bring together local initiatives and services in Oxfordshire and to work together to ensure safety and maximise impact.

The expertise of survivors inspired the group’s work from the beginning – in particular talking with the family of two victims of a domestic abuse homicide in Oxfordshire. Learning from this led the partnership to identify, as a priority, the need for a coordinated approach to information sharing and early intervention – and for ensuring a rapid response when high risk was identified.

The need for an independent inclusive service for victims at high risk which would also support the work of the partnership led the trustees to found Reducing the Risk in 2007. The charity established the IDVA service for Oxfordshire in January 2008 and has since worked intensively with 2500 victims of abuse. The charity also played a key role in establishing and supporting Oxfordshire’s Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) arrangements.

Prior to this the chair of the charity had evaluated the first Champion training in Cherwell and recommended to the partnership the rollout of the approach across Oxfordshire. Reducing the Risk was subsequently invested with the copyright for Champions training. These two services remain at the heart of Reducing the Risk’s practice.

Until 2015 the executive officer supporting the partnership and the Champion Networks was employed by the County Council and jointly managed by the County Council and Reducing the Risk. When the Council reduced its role in service provision, by agreement she joined Reducing the Risk. This enabled the charity to take full responsibility for and to extend the Champion Networks and provided a wonderful opportunity to grow our training service.

Meet our team

Romy Briant

MA, MSc, CQSW, MBE, Chair

I have worked across the voluntary and statutory sectors in a wide range of roles varying from project volunteer to partnership chair. My interests have encompassed inclusive communities, child development and work with families – with the fundamental importance of relationships as an underpinning theme.

I am a founding trustee and chair of Reducing the Risk. It’s a privilege to support and lead the work of such an extraordinary staff team and committed trustees. When not absorbed by Reducing the Risk and other voluntary sector roles, I have a wonderful family and a hectic home full of grandchildren, community activities and guests (pre-COVID) balanced by calmer moments of reading and playing music.

Michelle Plaisted-Kerr

Training & Development Manager

In my previous role as Domestic Abuse Coordinator for Oxfordshire I worked closely with Reducing the Risk and was pleased to be invited to join the team. My current role is exciting as we work innovatively to spread the knowledge and skills needed for communities and professionals to tackle DA.

I have supported the charity to roll out our DA Champion Network model in many areas outside of Oxfordshire supporting multi-agency work and sharing good practice, as well as developing work with colleges and universities to train professionals at the beginning of their careers.

I have a gorgeous Cavapoo and 2 wonderful grandchildren who are the apple of my eye, we enjoy walks, playing and making things together!

Stewart McInroy

DA Champion Network, Training & Development Officer

My background is policing but my passion is getting agencies working closer together and collaborating to develop better support for those suffering domestic abuse. No person, nor agency, has all the answers, but they do all have expertise in their own fields.

The DA Champions is a great example of individuals coming together and pooling their knowledge, experience and sharing resources.

I have worked specifically in high risk domestic abuse and risk management of medium risk cases for many years. I also spent some time in the Strategy Unit before becoming an IDVA with Reducing the Risk. In 2016, the charity took on the DA Champ network in Oxfordshire and I subsequently moved into the training team. We have been busy since then replicating this model in different areas.

Amelia Hartley

Training & Development Officer

I have worked within the charity and voluntary sector for a number of years, and have a wide range of experience in mental health, sexual violence, domestic abuse, and working with children and young people. My role focuses on training and supporting young people to build healthy relationships, support their peers and develop skills to use in their future careers. 

Outside of Reducing the Risk, I volunteer for the local rape crisis centre, and work with young victims of crime. To unwind, I love reading, spending time with my guinea pigs (!) and going for walks, preferably ending up in a country pub.

IDVA Team

Independent Domestic Violence Advisors

The IDVA team consists of 5 people. A manager, one IDVA to broadly serve each of the three Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences  (MARAC) areas in Oxfordshire – these are Cherwell and West, Oxford City and South and Vale plus the relatively new post of the Court IDVA who works in both Crown and Magistrates  Courts helping victims navigate the Criminal Justice System in criminal, civil and family matters.

This caring and compasionate IDVA team brings together a wealth of experience. Team members  come from backgrounds in the police service, practicing law, children and families social care, mental health, housing, welfare and benefits and it isn’t often that nobody knows the answer to a question or how best to deal with a particularly tricky problem. We have diverse hobbies and interests from boxercise to playing pool and the South and Vale IDVA makes particularly good sausage rolls.

Our Aims

Reducing the Risk was established to:

  • Increase the safety and wellbeing of adults and children at risk through domestic abuse and protect people who are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
  • Strengthen our community’s capacity to keep vulnerable people safe, promote good practice and foster multi-agency partnership to tackle domestic abuse together effectively.

Our core purpose is the safety and empowerment of victims of abuse and of those who support them.

Our ethos and values

We aim to provide services which are:

  • Safe, responsive, and reliable
  • Trustworthy and confidential
  • Effective and empowering
  • Inclusive

As a charity we aspire to be:

  • A beacon of good practice
  • Collaborative – working in partnership – and flexible to meet new needs
  • Local with national impact – recognising the importance of grass-roots expertise

We are a small local charity but we have had a significant impact on work in our field both strategically and operationally. In particular, we have developed a partnership approach to tackling abuse and exploitation which is recognised nationally.

Further initiatives and services

In 2009, the trustees worked with Oxfordshire Children’s Safeguarding Board to establish the Children’s DA strategy group which developed a range of work (including Bounce Back for Kids).

With the establishment of the Office of the PCC in 2012, Reducing the Risk forged an alliance with other service providers across the Thames Valley. We continue to meet to share good practice and develop joint initiatives. In 2015 we obtained funding from the PCC to strengthen therapeutic support for children and young people across the Thames Valley. A summary of how the funding was invested is in our library of good practice.

At the invitation of the District Council in 2013 we established the outreach service for Cherwell working closely with the Police Domestic Abuse Investigation unit. The service ran until 2018 when new Oxfordshire commissioning led to it being subsumed within a larger service.

In 2015, we developed and piloted an integrated domestic abuse and mental health service working closely with A2Dominion. Together we evolved and subsequently evaluated the ‘TAP’ model of integrated group and individual support. Outcomes were statistically significant. On the basis of this the service has since been commissioned to larger providers. The evaluations are in our library of good practice.

Most recently we are piloting a Court IDVA Service, a Safety Car Service with the Cherwell and West Local Police Area, and enabling the provision of an Own My Life Group to empower survivors of abuse.

Partnerships

We are committed to partnership working and have convened or proactively contributed to many strategic partnerships. Currently these include the Thames Valley DA Strategy Group, the Oxfordshire COVID-19 DA partnership and the Oxfordshire MARAC Review Group. In addition, our chair is a voluntary sector member of the Oxfordshire Strategic Partnership and the Children’s Safeguarding Board.

We were one of 17 charities selected by Lloyds Bank Foundation for a transform grant to scale up our work through which we retain links with Charities across the UK, and it is a privilege to work closely with so many dedicated services, partners and experts in their field to enhance support and services for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

Appreciation

We are indebted to all the many trusts, organisations and individuals who support us through their time, expertise, grants and donations. In particular, we would like to thank Lloyds Bank Charitable Foundation, The National Lottery, The Henry Smith Charity, St Michael’s and All Saints Charities, The Doris Field Trust and the PF Foundation.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our many donors and volunteers who give their time and skills to support the work of the charity and without whom our work would not be possible.

We would like to thank all the Reducing the Risk Domestic Abuse Champions, our Network associates, Oxfordshire County Council, and all the very many organisations and experts in their field with whom we work to develop services and who enrich our practice.

Finance

At our inception Reducing the Risk was entirely funded through statutory partnership funding. In 2011, through austerity, this funding stream abruptly came to an end. The trustees agreed to ensure we no longer relied on one source of funding. Until 2016, our income came almost equally from statutory sources and independent (trust and donation) funding. With the ending of Home Office Funding streams in 2015 and new commissioning arrangements in Oxfordshire, in 2016 our income dropped significantly and we focussed on sustaining core services. We have since been successful in developing independent sources of funding and been able to expand our range of work. This year has also benefitted hugely from Government and County Council emergency funding in light of the impact of COVID19.

For our current financial situation please see our RtR Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20.

We would like to express appreciation to all our funding partners and donors.

Our patrons

Dr Jane Monkton-Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Director of the Centre for Learning and Innovation in Public Protection at the University of Gloucestershire. She is an award-winning author. Her expertise is in the area of homicide, coercive control, and stalking. She is an advisor to the police and other agencies at both national and local level, and is an Independent Chair for Homicide Reviews. Her most recent research elucidates the ‘eight steps’ to homicide, and prior to this she designed and developed a domestic abuse and stalking response tool (DART).

Frank Mullane is Director of the charity AAFDA  - Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse - and a member of the government’s Victims’ Advisory Panel. He is a visiting lecturer and assessor for the University of Gloucester, a Reader for Home Office Quality Assurance – Domestic Homicide Reviews and a trustee of AVA (Against Violence and Abuse).

We need your help to continue our work reducing the risk of domestic abuse. Find out more about how you can get involved!