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A Day in the Life…of an ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advocate)

Posted on October 23, 2020 by New Pathways. Uncategorized

Have you always wondered what our ISVAs do on a day-to-day basis? Following the recent accreditation  of our ISVA team through LimeCulture, we follow a day in the life of one of our ISVAs, Sara Mann.

A day in my life as an ISVA during COVID-19
by Sara Mann

Overnight, our whole team had to adjust from working in a very, very busy office to working from home. Entering lockdown, we all face uncertainty and are generally taking it one day at a time.

How my day begins

My day starts with organising my babies, a.k.a. my dogs. I let them out and feed them. I then have a cup of tea while my husband bustles about the house getting ready for work. When he leaves, my day begins. My children are all grown up and for this I am grateful, as I cannot imagine having to manage three little girls, home-schooling, and working from home. I am in awe of parents who are doing it. I shower, get dressed and set up my home office.

My first tasks of the day

I start with emails at 8:00 a.m.. Then, each morning, we have a Teams meeting at 9:00 a.m., where we all check in to see how everyone is doing and address any notifications/queries. After this, I go back to my emails and very quickly priorities are highlighted.

I have been notified by Witness Care that one of my client’s trials, which was scheduled for next week, has been adjourned for the fourth time. At 9.30 a.m. I ring my client and, as can be expected, she is devastated. When a victim is due to give evidence at trial, they can re-watch their video interview a few days before the trial starts (in an exercise called Memory Refresh). In this instance, at the request of the client, I had specifically requested that this was left to the very end, and if the trial was to be adjourned then she not to watch it at all. This had not happened and my client had re-watched her video interview, only to be told the next day that the trial had been adjourned. This triggered her historic memories, putting her right back into the acute stages of trauma.

I contacted the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer for the case and relayed to her how badly this had impacted my client. From this conversation came the offer of a meeting with my client, the CPS lawyer, and the prosecuting barrister. My client was very apprehensive at first, but after thinking about it decided to go ahead. While it will not change what happened, the meeting presents a chance to answer any questions the client has and to provide her with reassurance. This inter-agency communication was hugely beneficial to meet the needs of the client. In a world where a victim is trying to get their voice heard and to take back control, these opportunities are vital.

Next on my list is a call to a mum of a young client. Mum received a ‘No Further Action’ decision from the CPS and she was devastated and angry. Mum wanted to pursue a Victim’s Right to Review. The right to request a Victim’s Right to Review arises when the CPS makes the decision not to bring charges or to terminate all proceedings. Mum requests that I advocate for this on her behalf and emails me her consent. I then compile the email with consent attached and send it to the Victim Liaison Team at the CPS. Later in the day, I receive official notification that the request has been received and a date by which a decision will be made. I then ring Mum to relay this information.

Break time

I will be honest, healthy eating went out of the window when lockdown commenced. Malted milk and cups of tea have become my new best friends.

Afternoon

The afternoon is spent on Zoom calls with clients. As lockdown came into force all face-to-face contact was suspended. Zoom is one of the many platforms we are now able to use to meet clients and it is working well. Sometimes being able to see a familiar face, in such an unprecedented time, is reassuring and comforting.

While I am on my Zoom calls, I receive an email from our administrator asking me to call a client regarding reporting options. I ring the client and talk through the available options. I work very much on the ethos that the client is at the centre of the process and their wellbeing is priority. While ensuring there is no immediate safeguarding concern or risk to that client, of course.

As the day draws to a close, I spend the rest of my day checking what is called Domestic Violence Daily Occurrences. These are reports of domestic and sexual violence received from our local multi-agency safeguarding hub. I cross check the reports against our client database and upload any relevant information to the client record, as well as informing the key worker.

As the day ends, I take some time to plan for tomorrow and write my to-do lists. As I do this my mobile phone rings to inform me that we’ve received a booking at one of our Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) for tomorrow. I successfully get through to the Crisis Worker and email our administrator to update her.

Back to my to-do list, and, once complete, I notice it is home time. I pack away my office, which is a laptop bag, laptop, diary, mobile phone, note pads, and everything I use on a day to day basis. It is all then stored away safely until tomorrow.

I finish by taking ten minutes to reflect and close off my working day. I view being an ISVA as a privilege. The clients I support have entrusted me to support them through a journey in their life, one that they never envisaged they would have to make. I am in awe of their bravery every day. I will always remain of the opinion that the opportunity to have an ISVA is integral to all victims of sexual violence.

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Our SARC facilities are open 24/7, 365 days a year. You can self-refer, without having to involve the police. You will have the same support from our specialist team no matter which referral route you take, and our ISVAs can talk through your options with you. You can find more information about our ISVAs and our SARC services here.

If you have been affected by sexual violence and you need support, or you would like to find out more information about our services, please contact us by phone (01685 379310), email: enquiries@newpathways.org.uk, or contact us via our website or social media.