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Two outstanding individuals have been recognised for their work in tackling domestic abuse.

The accolades – presented by The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse – were awarded to Jemma Price from West Mercia Women’s Aid and Sarah Chapman, web developer at Worcestershire County Council.

Jemma has been honoured for her work in heading up the CRUSH project, a local initiative that – due to its success – will be rolled out nationally across the UK later this year.

Charlotte Woodward – also from West Mercia Women’s Aid -developed the CRUSH Project which was launched in October 2011. Funded by the Big Lottery’s Young People’s Fund it helps teenagers, aged 13 to 19 years, to avoid abusive relationships, end an abusive relationship safely or better manage their exposure to domestic abuse in the household in which they live.

Since its launch, CRUSH has gone from strength to strength. Since June 2012 it has been running throughout West Mercia and has offered places to more than 250 young people.  In addition, organisations ran ‘closed’ groups throughout the area for a further 130 young people.  CRUSH presentations have been delivered to a variety of professional bodies which work with young people, including West Mercia Police – these presentations have reached more than 3000 children and young people.

85 per cent of those that have completed the CRUSH programme have reported a change in attitude towards relationships in the following areas : • Ways men and women behave in relationships; • Expectations about a partner; • Ways they behave to the opposite sex; • Ways they behave towards their partner; • Ways they behave towards their parents; • Ways they deal with the impact of domestic abuse.

Notably, more than a third of young people receiving support reported changed attitudes towards their own relationships.  It is clear from young people’s feedback that they both want and need information about abuse in relationships and that they are frequently not getting this from elsewhere.

CRUSH helps young people learn through the experiences of fictional characters that they create and guide through a number of typical teenage scenarios, culminating in how to deal with an abusive relationship.  The programme is specifically designed to complement the subject matter around domestic abuse, healthy relationships and gender bullying that may take place in schools’ PSHE/Citizenship curriculums or initiatives such as Expect Respect.

Jemma said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been presented with an award for West Mercia Women’s Aid CRUSH project; it is testimony to the positive and enduring impact it has on those young people who take part.”

“The statistics surrounding sexual abuse, intimidation and violence in teenage intimate relationships are frightening.  Both nationally and locally we are hopeful that this situation can change.

“Nationally, research shows that teenage girls between 16 and 19 are now the group most at risk of domestic violence, closely followed by women aged 20-24.

“And locally, the CRUSH Project provides teenagers with the emotional and practical knowledge they need to recognise and deal with and successfully move on from abusive relationships.”

Sarah Chapman, web developer at Worcestershire County Council, has been recognised for her work in developing and launching a new and improved website to further support local victims.

The new website – www.worcestershiredomesticandsexualabuse.co.uk – was officially launched on Thursday 20 June, and offers help and guidance to women, children and men, providing a one-stop shop of local services and helplines.

The site is currently being promoted via two postcards which have been distributed across Worcestershire in places such as libraries, schools and doctor's surgeries.

Easy to navigate, the new website includes information on the following : • Domestic abuse • Sexual violence • Children and young people • Forced marriage • Stalking • Support services • Worrying behaviour • Keeping safe • Internet safety

Sarah said: “Working with The Forum to develop such an important tool in its fight against domestic abuse has been so rewarding.  The new site aims to encourage victims to come forward and seek advice; we hope that visitors to the website will be able to find the strength to contact the many agencies that are here to help.”

Martin Lakeman, Strategic Co-ordinator for The Forum said: “Celebrating the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm of individuals is an important part of our work. By recognising such individuals it not only raises awareness of excellence but importantly highlights the issue of domestic abuse and sexual violence that we are working so hard to tackle.  Our congratulations to them both!”

The awards were presented by Martin to Jemma and Sarah at a ceremony earlier this month.

For further information about The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse please contact Martin Lakeman on 01905 822 357.

To call in confidence about domestic abuse call 0800 980 3331.