What we do for women at risk of
domestic violence and abuse
What we do for women who have
committed crime

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE SERVICES Advance

Our services are available for anyone who is aged 13 + and identify as women regardless of their ethnicity, sexuality , immigration status, physical and mental heath , and is living in Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and  Chelsea or  Westminster. We also support women, men and young people experiencing domestic abuse and living in Brent.

If you are experiencing domestic violence and abuse, Advance is here to support you no matter what you decide to do. We can listen, help you understand your options, explain your legal rights, talk to the police for you, help you get to safer housing or even attend court with you.

Most of our work is done with you one to one, on the phone or in person and you will work with the same person throughout your time with us wherever possible. This person is your Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA), and she is trained to support and help you, not to judge or tell you what to do, but to help you make your own decisions.

If you are choosing to stay in your relationship, we can offer you advice around safety planning. We can also help you access on legal protection, such as injunctions or restraining orders. For more information, see our criminal justice section below.

We can also offer you practical advice on your immediate and long-term safety. We can assist in making you feel safer in your home by referring you for additional security measures through the Sanctuary Scheme. If you do not feel safe to remain in your own home we can help you access refuge spaces, emergency housing and support you in management transfers. For more information see our housing section below.

Our Criminal Justice specialists are based in our offices and at police stations. They can offer you advice on police and court processes, specifically those of the Specialist Domestic Violence Court, based at Hammersmith Magistrates Court and the Dedicated Domestic Violence Court, based at Westminster Magistrates Court. We support clients through the criminal justice system and keep you informed of court hearings and can support you during trials. Below are just some of the ways we can help you through the criminal justice system:

We can talk you through your options for legal advice on a range of topics, from divorce to child contact.
We can help you arrange an injunction
We can make referrals to family solicitors or provide you with solicitor’s contact details so you can arrange an appointment.
Once you have reported the perpetrator to the police, we can ensure you always know the bail conditions and understand how to stay safe during this period.
We can confirm with the Witness Service on your behalf if you are attending court and can offer support to attend.
We can explain court proceedings, sit with you in the witness box and inform you about the outcome of a trial.

Our Housing specialist is based both at our offices at housing offices in Hammersmith. If you are being affected by domestic violence, you might have a lot of concerns around your living arrangements. Advance can help you make sense of your options. Below are listed just some of housing solutions we can assist with.

Sanctuary scheme

If you would like to stay at your property we could make a referral to a sanctuary scheme in order to put additional security measures in your property, such: fire proof letter box, grill son the window, safe room, extra locks on your doors and windows etc.

Refuge

We can do a refuge search for you either within London or outside of London. A refuge is a safe anonymous house where women who flee due to domestic violence are able to stay, there are other women in the refuge and you would also be allocated a key worker. In a refuge there is a NO Male rule which means no male can access the refuge.

Homeless application

We can help women approach any Local Authority and make a homelessness application to the council’s Housing Options team.

Private renting

We can help you approach any Local Authority and ask for information on private renting schemes. Some councils have scheme which help with the deposit for example on a property you may find.

Emergency housing

You may be able to obtain an emergency housing within 24 hours. We can help you try to obtain this. If you do not feel safe in your current property for fear of the perpetrator, we can advise on how you can arrange an emergency accommodation for her and her children.

Management transfer

If you are a council house tenant we can discuss how you go about liaising with your housing officer and ask for a transfer to another property.

Please note that each borough has different schemes and programmes in place. Our advisors will be able to help you understand what options are available to you.

We may be able to help you access funds to support yourself if:

You have entered the UK or were given leave to remain in the UK as a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner of a British Citizen or someone present and settled in the UK; and
Your relationship has broken down due to domestic violence
You do not have the means to access accommodation or to support yourself and need financial help; and
You are going to make a claim to stay permanently in the UK under the Domestic Violence Immigration Rule (Settlement DV)
We can contact the UK Boarder Agency to help you through this difficult time and we can work closely with immigration solicitors to get the help and advice you will need.

If you wish to leave the country, alone or with children, but someone is withholding your passport or you do not own a passport, we can also provide advice about how to get a temporary passport from the correct embassy so that you still travel to safety.

We can provide tailored services women with children. If you do not feel that the current child contact arrangements are safe for you or your children we can help you seek legal advice from a family solicitor and also raise your concerns with your social worker.

Our professional staff are highly trained to work with everyone experiencing domestic abuse in Brent, including heterosexual, gay, bisexual and transgender men. No-one deserves to be abused and everyone has the right to be respected and be safe.

It is important to remember that you are not alone, the abuse is not your fault and there are people who can help you. Our Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) provides support services for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse in Brent.

You can also call 07398 454898 for specialist support.

Our maternity specialist can provide ongoing support and help advise you of both your options and your rights. She can also help you increase your safety throughout pregnancy and after.
Our Social Care specialist is based both in our offices and in social care offices in Hammersmith & Fulham. She can offer face to face or telephone intervention, information and advice on risk management, welfare rights, legal matters relating to families and children and safety planning.
If you are suffering from alcohol or drug issues, we can help address these as well as supporting you through domestic violence. We will, however, never tell you what to do and what you say to us will remain confidential.
We have a specialist IDVA based in A&Ewho helps patients who reveal they are experiencing domestic abuse and also works closely with doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals so that they know how to help domestic violence victims/survivors. Whether you want advice on your immediate or long-term safety, tips about the police and court process, our A&E IDVA can help.
If you are suffering from domestic violence and also experiencing mental health issues, our specialist support worker can ensure you have all the help you need. We work closely with many other organisations that provide mental health services and can ensure that whatever you decide to do, the right support is in place for your needs.
Our Young Person IDVA takes referrals for Women aged 13 years – 25 years. She works closely with young women, understanding their specific needs, to deliver a range of services.

DO YOU NEED HELP?

Are you worried about your safety?
Scared of someone hurting or controlling you?
CLICK HERE to get free and confidential help now.
Call 020 8741 7008 or email us

Get help
Advance charity

“Advance made it easier for me – made me feel comfortable to access support”.

FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE COMMITTED CRIME Advance

Available for women aged 18+ living in London

If you have committed a crime, Advance provides all the help you need to move on at our women-only Minerva Centre. Our staff are here to listen and help you get the support you need to move forward with your life and make choices that are right for you.

Our goal is to divert women from the Criminal Justice System at the earliest opportunity, reduce re-offending amongst women, reduce the number of custodial sentences imposed on women by the Courts and prevent families breaking down as a result of offending. We believe that the criminal justice service is built by men, for men, so it is important that a safe, woman-only option like Minerva is available.

How to get help

Currently women cannot refer themselves for this service. Many of our referrals come directly from the police, prison and probation services. If you would like to refer a woman to us, please visit our Refer to us page.

What happens at our Minerva Centre?

At our Minerva Centre each woman has their own keyworker who will help them work through a variety of issues and find solutions. Our staff work closely with probation, housing, health, children’s services and other specialists to get women the help and advice they need, when they need it, all from one place.

Community alcohol worker, counselling, community drug worker, housing advice, benefits advice.

Creative writing workshop, afternoon workshops that focus on a different topic each week- popular workshops include healthy relationship workshops.

Be Inspired Arts, Crafts & Relaxation Group, Yoga, Film club, a lunch club.
We can also work with partner organisations to get women legal advice, debt management and financial planning, education, training and employment advice and safety advice/planning.

We offer a Young Woman specialist at our Minerva Centre for 18-25 year olds at risk of offending in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. This service is for young women who come to the notice of the Police for anti-social behaviour, or who are arrested for minor offences. We can help them with support and advice across a range of issues, from accommodation, family relations, relationships, abuse, drug & alcohol issues, health and financial concerns to help divert them from crime.

REFER SOMEONE

Our Minerva Project accepts referrals from a variety of sources for women aged 16+ who have been involved in the criminal justice system across several West London Boroughs. Email us for more information or click below. 

Refer to Us
Advance charity
“I just needed help with all the practical stuff that I don’t have a clue about what to do. But [Minerva] do. They have been a lot of help, just giving you anything that you can think about. I really just need someone in one place, in one go. If you have children, you can’t just run around. It’s just impossible.
If you’re trying to work and you’re trying to take care of your children, and do everything yourself, you just really need one person to call.” ~ Lora*

CASE STUDIES

Each woman goes on a different journey with Minerva, determined by her own unique needs and experiences. Below are examples of how that journey might go.

Women undergoing sentencing to custody and/or community disposals, or coming up to release/on release from prison (Through the Gates clients)

Rachael* originally refuses all appointments and support. However, she eventually agrees to meet her allocated keyworker at prison and allows us to assess her needs. We discover Rachael has suffered from depression and substance misuse for many years. We also find out that Rachael has experienced domestic violence in the past. We identify her areas of need based on this and also decide she needs support in finance, debt and health.

Rachael’s keyworker writes a letter of support for her, explaining the issues women face in the criminal justice system and linking Rachael’s struggles to her offending behaviour. The keyworker goes to court with Rachael to hear her sentencing and supplies more information about Rachael’s circumstances to the court.

This experience means Rachael trusts Minerva and allows us to develop a really detailed support plan for when she is released from prison. This support plan includes work with substance misuse services and housing services.

On release from prison Rachael does not meet her keyworker at the gates and is arrested for another crime a few days later. However, she then decides to meet Minerva a week later, saying she realises she should have met us originally and wants to re-engage with us. Rachael meets her offender manager at our office and starts realising how she needs to change her life to avoid crime, and makes plans to distance herself from old friends who are a bad influence.

She begins a journey away from reoffending.

Women referred to us by their offender managers (CRC clients)

Nadia* does not trust authorities as so has avoided engaging with them in the past. However Minerva gives her one-to-one sessions to focus on motivation and positive changes, taking responsibility for actions and behaviour. These sessions help Nadia to fully engage with her offender manager.

Minerva support Nadia to get a GP so she can manage mental health issues and help her claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA) benefits. Whilst we help Nadia, she unfortunately suffers serious physical assault and reveals that the person that did this to her has raped her in the past. Nadia’s keyworker helps her through this difficult time… Nadia grows in confidence and reports the incidents to the police. The person that harmed Nadia is charged and placed in custody, whilst Nadia has been put in touch with victim support services and has also changed her housing arrangement. Nadia also now has a much greater trust in the services out there and knows where support is when she needs it.

Her safety and well-being is increased and she serves the rest of her sentence without reoffending.

Confidentiality:

Our confidentiality policy states that we will not discuss your case with any other agency without your permission. However, if there are concerns relating to Child Protection issues or if you are at serious risk of harm, we would need to disclose this information to the relevant agencies to help safeguard yourself and your child/ren.
We will only share information that is necessary and will do so in a respectful and safe way.