News News and blogs International Women's Day 2023 - An interview with Kirstie Addleton Llamau has been working with women at risk of or experiencing domestic abuse and homelessness for more than 20 years. Llamau’s dedicated services have helped more than 4000 women to break free from domestic abuse and homelessness and find fulfilling, positive futures. This International Women’s Day, we find out more about Llamau’s women’s services by talking to Kirstie Addleton who joined Llamau in October 2022 as Head of Service for Domestic Abuse and Gender-Specific Services. What were your first impressions of Llamau? Every person I have met is passionate about Llamau’s work, the people using our services and our colleagues. This creates a welcoming and safe environment. Llamau is an organisation that truly lives its vision and values. What’s your background Kirstie, and what brought you to Llamau? With 18 years’ experience within the health and social care sector, I bring experience in a variety of services including domestic abuse, mental health, substance misuse, social prescribing, housing, homelessness and prisons/probation. I was a Senior Service Manager for a large housing association before joining Llamau. I am passionate about ending homelessness and ending violence against women and girls and wanted to be part of Llamau’s excellent work in this area. What’s your motivation for working in this field? I have always been a strong advocate for equality in all areas, and from a young age I couldn’t understand why gender inequalities were accepted by society. I felt angered by the stigma surrounding domestic abuse, and the misrepresentation and prejudice our media and justice system has had towards women. These experiences led me to wanting to work in this area. I wanted to empower people experiencing domestic abuse, destigmatise people’s attitudes, and work towards change and embedding a new society norm that it is for abusers to change their behaviour and not for women to modify theirs. One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. 71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public place and this increases to 86% among 18–24-year-olds with over 95% not reporting their experience. This is unacceptable. Can you tell us a bit about Llamau’s work? Llamau is one of Wales’ largest and most experienced providers of domestic abuse and gender-specific services, supporting over 4000 women and families last year to break the inextricable cycle of domestic abuse, trauma and homelessness. Llamau offers a vast range of DAGS specialist services, including gender specific supported accommodation; refuge provision; outreach services; the IRIS Programme (which helps GPs to identify and support women experiencing domestic abuse); and many co-delivered programmes including Cardiff RISE. Llamau is hugely experienced in creating safe, comfortable and psychologically informed environments for women and families to process their experiences on their own terms. The reality of entering refuge can feel overwhelming at first, increasing the risk that women will return to abusive relationships. We work with women to build strength and confidence, acknowledging many victims have been unable to make their own decisions, and have become fearful of change. And can you talk a bit about Llamau’s trauma informed approach? Trauma often comes back as a reaction and not a memory and this is why it can be difficult for people to understand their own or others behaviour. Creating a safe environment, developing trust and working in collaboration to give someone choice and support empowerment, whilst considering cultural, historical and gender issues, is fundamental when providing support to people. Llamau uses a trauma informed approach within our support and risk management to recognise the impact of traumatic experiences on people’s daily lives What are the highlights of your first few months at Llamau? In my first few months at Llamau, I have enjoyed building relationships, visiting our DAGS services, spending time with the teams, and meeting some of the women and children using our services to learn about their experience and how much they value our Support Workers and Assistants. Llamau’s DAGS staff teams help people to talk about their feelings, explore options, access local services, and to identify ways in which they can increase their safety and that of their children whether they would like to stay in, or end, the relationship. We provide information on local services that can help to support and protect people and give information on their rights and options. This International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate the bravery of the women Llamau supports and the tireless, supportive and transformative work carried out by my Llamau colleagues. Last year 92% of the women we supported moved on safely from our refuges; successfully returning and securing their home with safety measures or moving into a safe new home. Find out more about Llamau’s gender specific services. Donate now to ensure that Llamau can continue to help women and children at risk of or experiencing homelessness.