New Family Justice Centre opens
A new Family Justice Centre, built by Apex Housing Association under a development agreement with Foyle Women’s Aid, was officially opened in Derry~Londonderry last week. The centre, located in Bishop Street, is the first of its kind in the UK and Ireland and will provide support to all victims and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse and violence.
The new building was financed jointly by the Department for Communities and the Department of Justice. As part of the project, Apex will manage an associated supported housing development of nine apartments for women fleeing domestic violence.
Recent statistics have shown that in Northern Ireland a domestic abuse incident occurred every 16 minutes*. Furthermore, on average victims will have to tell their story 27 times before accessing key service support**. The Family Justice Centre seeks to provide the necessary support to address these issues.
Marie Brown, CEO of Foyle Women’s Aid & Foyle Family Justice Centre (Foyle FJC) explains:
Partners of the Foyle FJC recognise that no one agency can tackle domestic and sexual abuse and violence and are committed to working collaboratively with a range of voluntary and statutory organisations. The Foyle FJC will house representatives from over 20 agencies, and will provide a broad range of specialist services, removing barriers and gaps in service for all victims of domestic and sexual abuse and those vulnerable and disenfranchised by their community. Our vision is to save lives and deliver bespoke, co-ordinated, victim-centred services to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. The centre is a place where agencies come together, and families come first.
Sheena McCallion, Chief Executive of Apex Housing Association, commented:
It has been our pleasure to work with Foyle Women’s Aid to deliver this exceptional building in the heart of the city. Designed to facilitate a multi-agency approach, it will allow Foyle Women’s Aid and other partners to work collaboratively to provide victim-centred services; whilst the nine apartments in our supported housing development will provide vulnerable service users with a safe place to call home.
The Family Justice Centre model, pioneered in the United States, is a multiagency, multidisciplinary co-located service centre, which provides assistance to victims and survivors of interpersonal violence, including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder or dependent adult abuse and human trafficking. The purpose of a Family Justice Centre is to reduce re-traumatisation by reducing the number of times survivors must retell their stories and make it easier for survivors and victims to access the necessary services, to enhance their safety and increase offender accountability. As a result, lives will be saved and incidents, crimes and repeat victimisation in the area will reduce.
To find out more about the Foyle Family Justice Centre or to refer to its services please contact Foyle Women’s Aid on 028 7141 6800 or visit www.foylefamilyjusticecentre.org.
*Domestic Abuse Incidents and Crimes Recorded by the Police in Northern Ireland Update to 31st March 2022
**Foyle Women’s Aid independent research