The picture perfect, happy families around the dinner table that feature in the media is not the reality for many adults and children. Christmas can be a tough time for a lot of people experiencing domestic or other abuse, mental health issues, slavery or exploitation.
Take Christmas Eve last year: our safeguarding team was working until very late in the evening to protect a resident with very complex mental health issues, self-neglect and a high risk to life, which we successfully managed. At the same time, we worked tirelessly to find a refuge space for a woman and her children who were experiencing domestic abuse. At 10:30pm, after waiting in the police station, they were accepted by a refuge, provided with safe accommodation and all the things they needed to make Christmas relatively happy for the children.
Throughout the Christmas period, our customer service centre, and care and support service continue to support and keep our residents safe. Those with mental health crises, thoughts of suicide, experiencing abuse or are severely self-neglected are all supported or signposted to help.
Here is a reminder of who you can speak to if you need to keep safe during Christmas and the new year:
- Our Safeguarding Team will not be available to provide advice from 12pm on Friday 24 December, until 9am on Tuesday 4 January 2022. For information and advice, please refer to our safeguarding page. If you have any safeguarding concerns relating to someone who is under 18 or a vulnerable adult, please call your local authority social care phone number.
- Reporting abuse: Call 999 if you are reporting a crime that is in progress or if someone is in immediate danger.
- Adult abuse (if they meet the threshold) should be reported to your local borough safeguarding adults’ team. Information will be available on their website including their out of hours contact.
- Child abuse can be reported to the police, the NSPCC or children services.
- Mental health: If you feel someone is unable to keep themselves safe and it's a mental health emergency, call 999.
- If someone in struggling with their mental health but are able to keep themselves safe for a short while:
- contact NHS 111
- contact a local urgent mental health helpline. (do a Google search for mental health crisis team for the Borough to get contact details)
- encourage them to speak to Samaritans
- Refuge Domestic Abuse Helpline (open 24 hours): call 0808 2000 247 or contact them online
- Mankind UK provides an information, support and signposting service to men suffering from domestic abuse from their current or former wife, partner (including same-sex partner) or husband.
- Galop are trans inclusive and welcoming of anyone from the LGBT+ community (including those who are questioning their identity). Contact them on 0800 999 5428 or at: email@example.com to receive support if you are a victim of sexual violence, hate crime or domestic abuse.
- Bi-survivors network supports bi women and non-binary people. They provide a space where bi survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence can talk and find solidarity.
- Karma Nirvana supports victims of forced marriage or “honour based violence” (always call 999 if there is an immediate threat to life)
- Modern Slavery Helpline: for reporting cases of modern slavery or human trafficking.
- StepChange have put together information to help search for help with food or finances: https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/emergency-funding.aspx
- To find the nearest food bank residents can look at Trussell Trust website https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/Council's may be able to provide assistance through their Local Welfare Assistance Scheme
- Contact Crisis or Shelter if anyone is in need of a shelter, is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless