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A new Scottish pilot is being rolled out in Lochaber which aims to tackle domestic abuse.
Lochaber Women’s Aid together with Caithness and Sutherland Women’s Aid are rolling out the Ask Me Community Ambassador Scheme following the publishing of the 2019 National Rural Crimes Network report, which noted that domestic abuse is only half as likely to be reported in rural areas and, on average, continues 25 per cent longer, suggesting it can be the close community feel of remote and isolated areas that enable abuse to occur.
Ask Me coordinator Cathie Way told the Lochaber Times the scheme is already attracting a lot of support and attendance locally.
Ask Me is offering free training sessions and wants to encourage as many people as possible to attend. Anyone over 18 regardless of gender, age, profession or background is welcome.
Ms Way explained: ‘Friends, neighbours, shop assistants, yoga teachers, bartenders, hairdressers… the list is endless. The more people who are trained to be ambassadors the more chances there are to recognise abuse and be the person to listen when someone is ready or needs to talk.’
She said that the first part of the training is raising awareness of the issues, helping to break the silence and educate to give people confidence to call out behaviours and challenge the culture that allows abuse and creates victim blaming.
The second part of the training is in giving ambassadors the skills to listen to and support survivors. She said: ‘We ensure that self care for ambassadors is part of the training. That they know how to signpost survivors to the right places to get support and do not feel they are putting themselves at risk. The key messages are to listen, to believe and to signpost.’
Training sessions will take place in Fort William on September 12; Strontian on September 24 and 25, and a session in Spean Bridge is still to be confirmed. Sessions have already been held in Caol and Ballachulish.
To book a space on one of the training sessions or find out more contact Cathie Way by emailing: email@example.com or call her on 07534 331991.