New domestic abuse project launched in Sunderland schools

Councillor Harry Trueman.
Councillor Harry Trueman.
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Schools across Sunderland will be taking part in a new domestic abuse scheme.

Each of the city’s schools will be getting involved in the project, which offers help to all young people affected by violence in the home.

There will be a key adult at their school who they can talk to about the overnight problems they faced at home with domestic abuse

Coun Harry Trueman

Operation Encompass has been launched by a partnership of Sunderland City Council, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Northumbria Police and Together for Children.

Additional funding has enabled 200 key adults to be trained, with two available in every school across the city to provide individual help, support and advice to children and young people.

These key adults, usually teachers, will be on hand every morning to speak to any pupil who was involved in, or witnessed, a domestic incident the night before which the police attended.

Operation Encompass will improve information sharing so teachers can identify any domestic issues pupils are facing and work with partners to support them.

The immediate aim is to make sure that pupils feel safe, listened to and supported both inside and outside of school.

That could include meeting practical needs with a flexible approach to timetable, uniform and homework, as well as meeting emotional needs by providing the child with coping strategies, counselling and someone just to relax and talk to.

Coun Harry Trueman, chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “We know that it is very upsetting and distressing for those children and young people who live with domestic abuse.

“They often see the abuse first hand or hear it from another room, and some may even try and intervene to stop a parent from being hurt. Following such an incident, pupils will often arrive for school upset and unprepared.

“Now, through Operation Encompass, there will be a key adult at their school who they can talk to about the overnight problems they faced at home with domestic abuse, and what worries they may have about how to continue in class.

“The individual pupil can then help determine how the help and support they need can best be provided, where and for how long.”

Schools are writing letters to all parents and carers telling them about Operation Encompass, and will be promoting it on their websites and in school prospectus.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: “It’s so important that we give vulnerable young people across Sunderland and the region a voice and Operation Encompass is about doing just that, offering early intervention and support when children need it most.”