Fighting the tide of domestic violence

Joanne Harrison
Joanne Harrison

IN the week a court heard harrowing details of the domestic abuse meted out to a young woman in front of her young son.

Christopher Foley was found guilty on Wednesday of murdering his partner 20-year-old Joanne Harrison with a pair of scissors. The jury was told just days before he had given her a nasty black eye when he punched her in the face, and Joanne had 36 injuries, some old and some new.

Jailing Foley for 16 years, Judge Mark Brown described it as tragedy for the couple’s baby son who has lost both his mother and his father, and told the killer: “I am satisfied that you were an abusive violent partner.”

Domestic violence doesn’t always have such tragic consequences but any abuse is traumatic for those involved, especially youngsters who witness it.

But a centre for abused women in Wigan has been forced to make some tough decisions, as it strives to provide a counselling service for children.

Despite being awarded a grant of £136,948 from Wigan Council’s The Deal initiative, Drop in and Share (DIAS) charity, based in Rodney House, King Street, had to say goodbye to director of services, Maureen Burgess following a funding crisis.

Jeanette Bailey, chief officer, has now taken on her roles, and is now looking ahead. She said: “It is regrettable that due to lack of funding, Maureen was made redundant, which has bought us more time to get on a good footing again. This had to be done for DIAS to survive and remain open. However, she is still with us on an advisory role. I started as a volunteer 25 years ago and have moved up the ranks. I have been at Maureen’s side all the time, so I have learnt a lot from her.”

The charity is now taking referrals for its newest service to support youngsters aged five to 16 who are victims of or have witnessed domestic violence. The children’s counselling was originally part of DIAS in 2000, but was stopped in 2010 due to lack of funding. Between April 2014 and March 2015 they had 441 clients, 191 were new during that year. They also provided 1,888 support and advice sessions.