Lucy’s Update

Welcome to our November edition of ‘Breaking the Cycle’.

The ’16 Days of Action’ against gender-based violence begins on 25th November.  Although the roots of the campaign reside in highlighting the nature and prevalence of gender-based violence against women, Alpha Vesta’s mission is to ‘break the cycle of domestic abuse’ regardless of gender or sexuality.  During this period, we have chosen to highlight an aspect of domestic abuse that affects the whole family, and we urge friends, family, work colleagues and communities to join us in raising awareness of the link between Domestic Abuse and Pet Abuse.  Please see section below on how you can support our Campaign as well as attend our 1hr Awareness Session on ‘Domestic Abuse and Pets’ listed in our ‘Dates for the Diary’.

Sharon Bryan, Head of Partnerships and Development at National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV), was recently interviewed by us and has very kindly agreed for us to share this with you to highlight their new role as one of our Alpha Vesta Community Advocates.  Sharon talks about the great work they are doing at NCDV to break the cycle of domestic abuse.

This month, we are attending the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board (SETDAB) Conference on Friday 25th November, where we will have an Alpha Vesta Stand! I am also speaking at the NCDV Conference on Wednesday 30th November and as part of Safeguarding Adults Week I will be speaking with Essex Partnership University Trust, on 24th November.

We have also launched our new National and Regional Support Services Guide which you can download from our website home page.  So many people ask for details of organisations that can support them specifically around domestic abuse or alternatively looking at the complex issues that interact with domestic abuse such as mental health issues, substance misuse, debt, learning disabilities and housing.  We hope you find it helpful and please share this across your workforce and community.


We have also accessed additional funding for our ‘Breaking the Cycle Programme’ to be run further across Essex. The Programme is an Education and Mentor Programme for Survivors of Domestic Abuse to support them to rebuild their confidence, self-esteem and independence.  Please email us at if you would like to make a referral, self-refer or find out more about the programme itself.  We will launching some Essex Based Community Hubs for the Programme at the beginning of next year.

Our ‘Domestic Abuse in the News’ section highlights some high-profile stories around domestic abuse this month in the News.  Inside Housing highlight issues around accessing safe accommodation for victims of domestic abuse.  This is why we are so passionate about ‘reaching people sooner’ when it comes to domestic abuse as once crisis really does emerge, it’s very difficult to create those sustainable changes before someone can move forward with their life once again.

The other two articles highlight the legacy of domestic abuse – whether it’s a personal experience of their own or someone else they were close to. Victims, their friends, families, work colleagues and communities, as you will see in the articles – do not heal very quickly. Again, one of the reasons why we are so passionate about reaching people sooner.

We look forward to sharing our December update with you next month.

Best wishes
Lucy Whittaker

Lucy Whittaker

Founding Director and Lead Trainer of Alpha Vesta CIC

16 days of action against domestic abuse

Domestic Abuse and Pet Abuse – 16 Days of Action

25th November – 10th December 2022

Eliminating gender-based violence is the aim of ‘16 Days of Action’, an annual international campaign which runs from 25th November until 10th December.

Established in 1991, the ’16 Days of Action’ is an initiative that aims to raise awareness of the reality of domestic abuse and push for positive change to increase women and men’s safety.

Although the roots of the campaign reside in highlighting the nature and prevalence of gender-based violence against women, Alpha Vesta’s mission is to ‘break the cycle of domestic abuse’ regardless of gender or sexuality.   

For this reason, we have chosen to highlight an aspect of domestic abuse that affects the whole family, and we urge friends, family, work colleagues and communities to join us in raising awareness of the link between Domestic Abuse and Pet Abuse.

We will be running our free ‘Domestic Abuse and Pets 1hr Awareness Session’ via Zoom on 28th November at 2pm.  You can book your place on via Eventbrite here.

We have also prepared 16 images along with insight and supporting statistics based around this complex connection and invite you to share them across your social media platform, workplace intranet/forums and across your community.  The zip folder is downloadable here which includes one image for each of the 16 days, however you can share as many or as few as you are able to.

Suggested social media wording to accompany images:

Domestic Abuse and Pet Abuse have a complex relationship.  Pets are frequently abused in this context as much as a victim or child is.  A pet can be prevented from being taken to the vets, underfed or harmed by someone in the home who is intent on being in total control.  When attempting to flee domestic abuse, leaving a much-loved pet behind is one of the most difficult decisions a victim will ever have to make. This creates an enormous barrier in breaking the cycle. 

Visit the RSPCA Website for advice and guidance or visit to access some basic training in how to spot the signs of domestic abuse and respond safely.  You will also be able to access a list of other support services we have compiled here.

#domesticabuse #domesticabuseandpetabuse #alphavesta #breakingthecycle #betheirvoiceagainstdomesticabuse #16daysofaction2022 #petfostering

community scheme

­November Community Advocate Spotlight: NCDV

Sharon Bryan, Head Of Partnerships & Development of Domestic Abuse Services



Can you describe some of the steps you have taken to move forward with your Community Advocate role?

 We raise awareness of Alpha Vesta whenever we can and point people in their direction for training.  I have done the training and the CPD Accreditation to brush up on my own skill and knowledge of the sector.  We are working in Partnership with Places for People Housing Association on a Peer Mentoring Project and have put all three peer mentors through the Alpha Vesta CPD Accredited training.  NCDV share Alpha Vesta social media posts whenever we see them and we have also featured them on our website.  Lucy Whittaker is one of our speakers at our 2022 Conference ‘Creating Effective Partnerships’ which will bring awareness of alpha Vesta to a lot more organisations both voluntary and statutory.

 How important is it to you to break the cycle of domestic abuse at a much earlier point across your community and workforce? 

 It is extremely important for NCDV to break the cycle of domestic abuse, not only across the community and workforce but wherever we can in society.  Many people who experience domestic abuse work and this renders them effectively trapped if they want to escape the abuse and go into refuge, for example.  Many people assume refuge is free but it is not and costs upwards of £500 a week in London and other large cities across the UK.  Someone would need to have a very good job to be able to afford that rent and therefore this means of escape is often out of reach for people who work.  The workplace can make this a lot easier for people who want or need to escape the abuse they are experiencing by offering them sabbatical time off, transferring their jobs to another area where the person may be able to get refuge space cheaper.  Most importantly, domestic abuse is everyone’s business.  NCDV’s mission is to make domestic abuse socially unacceptable but to do that we all need to be aware and know the signs to look out for so that we can help people who are experiencing it.  The workplace is often a form of sanctuary for people experiencing domestic abuse so it is vital that all work places are supportive and knowledgeable.

How has the work you’ve been doing so far been received?

The work we have done so far to promote Alpha Vesta has been very well received.  We all need to work in partnership to make our society a safer place to live and work and we are very proud of our partnership with Alpha Vesta.

Mind logo

On behalf of Mid and South Integrated HealthCare Systems, Thurrock and Brentwood Mind are hosting the #letstalkaboutsuicideessex campaign. 

Did you know that in Essex alone in 2019, 111 people took their own life and 83% of those were male.  Suicide is the leading cause of death in the UK of men under 50, taking more lives than cancer, heart disease, heart attack or road traffic accidents, in 2018 over 6500 people in the UK took their own life. 

In fact, a life is lost in the UK every 2 hours through suicide and thousands of us experience suicidal thoughts and feelings every single day and with COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis now in affect we are now amid a mental health crisis. 

We are encouraging local businesses, organisations and groups to get involved by completing a FREE 20-minute online session entitled ‘Suicide Prevention Training’.  This training aims to educate attendees on how to SEE the signs of someone in crisis, SAY the words to them and SIGNPOST to support.  Alternatively, Thurrock and Brentwood Mind are also offering to deliver this training face to face at your workplace. 

Employees can access the training here and selecting the Essex region.  Alternatively, you can contact Nadine Winiberg-Bettell, Communications and Engagement Lead via email here should you have any further questions. 

Community action update

Hello everyone!

I am glad to be back after my holiday and I am now ready to continue my mission to spread the word against domestic abuse.

Since being back, I have resumed my “Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse” in the community, within the Essex Starbucks stores.  Domestic abuse seems to still be one of those topics that is “taboo”, “not spoken about” or, even “brushed under the carpet”.  However, I am delighted to say that two people did approach me in the Colchester Retail Park store to ask more about Alpha Vesta and what we do.  After a chat and coffee, they proceeded to let me know their individual journeys. Such brave people and I am so pleased that we are now in contact with them both, where we are supporting them further to where they want to be.

This reinforces for me that there are many people suffering in silence; ashamed, embarrassed or feeling too alone to speak out.  I want as many people as possible to know that they are not alone and that they just need to take that first step to make a call and reach out for help.  No matter how dark the night is, no matter how much darkness you feel in your life, there will always be light to guide you back, just like the moon.

Next month along with my visits to the Colchester Starbucks Stores, I will also be dedicating a day in the Brentwood store too.  So please do, come along, don’t be shy, treat yourself to a well-deserved coffee and say “Hello”!  I honestly don’t bite, and I do love a chat too 😊

Our work with the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) also involves visiting more of our Essex based Job Centres, enabling me to see people at their premises who are or have experienced domestic abuse, and are looking to return to the workplace.  This is amazing an opportunity, working with referrals and work coaches who are understanding more the issues that surround domestic abuse.  So again, come along and have a coffee and a chat, and find out what we do.

On another positive note, I was a guest on Soul Beat radio on Sunday 30th October, where I spent 2 hours having fun, playing music that was special to me, as well are speaking about the work Alpha Vesta and I do.   I must have been ok, as I have been invited back!!!!!

Dates for the Diary

Enhanced 2b: Domestic Abuse & Pets

Enhanced 2b: Domestic Abuse & Pets

Click on the above link to access the Eventbrite link to book your place 

SETDAB Conference 2022 ‘Coercive Control & Stalking’ Chelmsford City Racecourse

SETDAB Conference 2022 ‘Coercive Control & Stalking’ Chelmsford City Racecourse

25 November 2022

Click on the above link to book your place via our Eventbrite page

Male Culture & Domestic Abuse

Male Culture & Domestic Abuse

Click on the above link to access the Eventbrite link to book your place

National Support & Help

National 24hr Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 For women and children experiencing domestic abuse

Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 For men experiencing domestic abuse

RESPECT 0808 802 4040 For those concerned that they may be using abusive behaviours

NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 If you are concerned about a child

Samaritans 116 123 For those struggling in terms of their mental health and feeling in crisis

NCDV 0800 970 2070 free, fast emergency injunction service for survivors of domestic abuse

Essex Regional Support & Help

Alpha Vesta 01245 791281 For employers and employees concerned about a staff member

Compass 0330 333 7 444 Compass is being delivered by a consortium of established domestic abuse support agencies including; Safe Steps, Changing Pathways and The Next Chapter. The aim is to provide a single point of access for callers to speak with a trained member of staff who will complete an assessment and ensure contact is made with the most appropriate support service.

The Change Project 01245 258 680 Committed to preventing conflict in relationships and working with both perpetrators, victims and their children.

CPD Provider
Lottery Community Fund
brentwood Chamber
Essex Partnership
Police, fire and crime commissioner for essex
Essex Community Foundation

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