Lisa Peplow is the Regional Idva Service Manager at West Mercia Women's Aid. She's worked for the organisation since 2010, when she started as an Idva. Previously, she's worked for a residential support worker with vulnerable children and young people, and a senior social work assistant.
What made you decide to start working with victims and survivors of domestic abuse?
While working for Local Authorities with children and families it became apparent that domestic abuse was prevalent in most of those cases. This gave me a greater understanding of the need for specialist support services to work with these families. Domestic abuse is a minefield for some people and agencies to recognise and understand. The ‘why don’t they just leave’ comments made me want to help victims more, and also share knowledge with these agencies to help them understand the enormity of ‘just leaving’. It gives me so much satisfaction to work with a victim where their confidence and self-esteem has been shattered – to see them recover from abuse and move their lives forward, living independently with their children and living a life without fear.
What changes have you seen in the time since you first started?
I have seen an increase in referrals since I first started. This is partly due to our organisation raising awareness across West Mercia, but also the continued improvement in services. For instance, we have initiated a Police pilot dealing with the initial response to victims of domestic abuse.
We have also completed a pilot with one of our local hospitals which has seen a rise in referrals from across the Health sector. They have a better understanding of controlling behaviour and the significant impact domestic abuse has on victims.
Over the last few years we have undertaken a significant amount of training with a range of agencies across West Mercia. GPs are referring more often which has been a big step forward. Last year we trained housing providers from maintenance workers to managers to ensure that domestic abuse is better recognised by those who come into contact with women and families on a daily basis.
What keeps you going when the work gets tough?
The team I work with are incredibly supportive and we work together to remain strong in our vision. We all have a sense of humour which often sees us through the tough times. The organisation I work for is supportive and my line manager is always on hand. I always take regular breaks from work as I believe this important in self-care and travelling, learning different cultures and different ways of living helps with perspective.
What are you most proud of so far?
The Idva team that I am extremely proud to work with. We are a team of strong, independent women and we are all a little bit sassy. I feel hugely honoured to have been nominated for star of the month – this is another proud moment.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this career, what would it be?
Do it! It is incredibly rewarding. Hard work and resilience is needed, creative safety planning and thinking outside of the box, keeping perspective, patience and above all keep smiling. This role will make you laugh and cry all in one day but nothing gives me more satisfaction than ensuring another victim is safe.
Lisa was nominated by one of her former clients, who thanks to Lisa's support, was able to rebuild her life and now works for a domestic abuse service herself. She said: 'My involvement with agencies left me voiceless and the only advice was very selective. What I learnt was that there actually are options. Both Lisa and WMWA have been such a huge part of my recovery and helping me rebuild my life. Everyday I admire her advocacy for victims. The impact she has had on my life as a survivor is truly amazing and I’m sure I'm not the only one.'
Do you know a professional who has gone above and beyond to change the response to domestic abuse and keep survivors and their families safe? Nominate someone for Star of the Month by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Star of the Month’ as the subject line