Information for Professionals

How to refer

Agencies who receive disclosures of domestic abuse from their clients, or have concerns that domestic abuse is an issue, should complete the MERIT risk assessment tool with the individual victim, as per MARAC protocols.

Download a copy of the MERIT risk assessment here.

By completing the MERIT risk assessment, this will enable you as the referring agent to identify the level of risk & determine the referral pathway required into DV services.

Depending on the outcome of the MERIT risk assessment, the level of risk is separated into 3 categories: Gold, Sliver & Bronze.

You can use our Guidance Tool to help you complete the MERIT risk assessment accurately & thoroughly.

Gold Scores

If you complete a merit & it scores 72+ – as the referring agent you will need to complete a MARAC referral form as you have identified a high risk victim of domestic abuse.

At the stage of risk identification, it is important to notify the victim of the MARAC and that you will be making a referral, enabling you to seek informed consent from the victim. Although it is preferable consent is received, a MARAC referral can be submitted without consent with supporting evidence and later stages of the form should be fully completed.

Download the MARAC referral form heredownload-icon

The MARAC referral form should be completed and returned to:

maracreferrals@sthelens.gov.uk.cjsm.net or maracreferrals@sthelens.gov.uk   (if you do not have access to CJSM)

The referrals will then be processed by the MARAC team and shared across to the IDVA service to be allocated to an IDVA’s case load to make initial contact with the victim and explain service offer for safety planning, guidance and support.

The IDVA Service does not accept direct referrals from professionals– all referrals to IDVA must be referred to MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) which automatically triggers a referral to the IDVA Service.

Silver & Bronze Scores

If the MERIT score falls within the Silver or Bronze categories, you can then use our domestic abuse outreach service referral form to access specialised Domestic Abuse support for the victim.

Download the Domestic Abuse Outreach referral form here.

The referral form should be completed fully with the MERIT attached and returned to dvreferral@torus.cjsm.net

If you do not have access to CJSM – referrals can be sent to dvreferral@torus.co.uk and MARKED CONFIDENTIAL

The referrals will then be screened by our Risk identification Officer and initial contact will be made with the victim offering them a face to face appointment/support service.

In some cases, you may feel that even though the scoring has come out at Silver or Bronze that, in your professional judgement, the case needs to be heard at the MARAC. In these circumstances, you would complete the MARAC referral form as described above, and be clear what your professional judgement is.

Accessing Emergency Crisis Accomodation

To access refuge accommodation based services, agencies can call the 24hr Helpline based at Refuge on 01925 220541.

As a referring agent, you will asked to provide detailed information about the victim and the outcome of the MERIT you have completed.

A risk assessment and referral form will be completed by refuge staff and this information will then be screened to determine if there is an appropriate vacancy at St Helens refuge for the victim to access or if it is suitable for them to access the waiting list. Alternatively, the refuge staff can assist agencies to source refuge vacancies out of borough by checking the national refuge vacancy database.

Out Of Hours Domestic Abuse Helpline

The domestic abuse helpline is operated by trained staff providing advice, guidance and emotional support to victims of domestic abuse. The helpline can also be utilised by professionals who need assistance after 5pm.

It is recommended agencies access the helpline out of hours (evenings and weekends) to gather information about service eligibility, refuge spaces & signposting.

Agencies can share the 24 hour helpline number with their clients. It is important clients are advised to store it in their phones discreetly so their safety is not compromised.

The Helpline number is 01925 220541.

Safe2Speak Programme

The Safe2Speak programme provides a 6 week rolling programme tailored to anyone who has been or is affected by domestic abuse and wishes to access specialist practical advice and support through facilitated and structured group work sessions each Monday 12.30pm to 14.30pm.

Referral forms can be sent to CJSM secure email dvreferral@torus.cjsm.net or if you do not have access to CJSM the email can be sent to dvreferral@torus.co.uk  and marked confidential.

It is important to note that a person attending the Safe2Speak Programme is not equivalent to IDVA or DV Outreach support and is a supplementary service.

A client does not need to be open to an IDVA or DV Outreach Officer to access the programme and the Safe2Speak referral form can be completed separately.

Download the Safe2Speak Programme referral form here

To make a referral to the programme at the same time as referring a client for IDVA and outreach support please indicate this when completing the relevant referral form.

Wellbeing Programme

The Wellbeing Programme is available to any clients known to Safe2Speak who would like to:

  • Learn what helps them move on from surviving to thriving 
  • Get support to be able to access other health and wellbeing services 
  • Explore mental health and wellbeing
  • Receive practical support towards creating positive and sustainable goals
  • Meet others who will support them on their journey 

The programme is aimed at helping people learn tools and create goals to make the desired changes in their lives.

Sessions will focus on building trust, group and peer support as well as learning about the different ways to increase self-esteem, confidence and hope. 

The various experiences we go through in life, can often make us stressed, anxious and depressed. It can be hard to manage family life and feel confident about the changes we want to make especially if the stress has been around for a while. 

The team will be encouraging clients to talk about these stresses and experiences. To provide a safe and non-judgemental space for clients to flourish and create new possibilities in life. 

The range of support will cover various issues, including: 

  • Picking up the pieces after a broken relationship
  • Life trauma
  • Moving on after loss
  • Getting the job they always wanted
  • Communication problems
  • Help building assertiveness self-esteem and confidence

How does it work?

The Safe2Speak team member will go through the details of the programme with participants before they meet with one of the Wellbeing Team.

Following a short assessment, the team will then explore the best intervention and plan going forward. Support will include one to one or group work and will take place either online or face to face. 

The programme will then follow a number of online sessions, depending on the participant, to provide techniques and coping strategies, plus skills to help develop confidence and self-esteem.

Anything discussed will remain confidential, unless any safeguarding issues arise, which will be followed by a plan with the participant. 

Speak to the Safe2Speak team for more details.