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Family Justice Centre opens in Foyle

05 Sep 2022

On 2 September, Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, chaired the opening of the Foyle Family Justice Centre (FJC) at a launch event held in the Guildhall, Derry/Londonderry. The Family Justice Centre, located in Bishop Street, is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and Ireland and will provide support to all victims and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse and violence.

Keynote speakers included; Judge Barney McElholm, Doctor Chan Hellman from The Hope Research Centre in the United States, Lady Chief Justice of Northern Ireland The Right Hon Dame Siobhan Keegan, and Chief Superintendent Anthony McNally, PSNI.

The Foyle Women’s Aid Voice Forum, a collective of women from the Derry / Strabane area who are survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence lead a moving presentation highlighting the power of survivor voices demonstrating how to regain their voice following abuse, and how to use it to speak for others and use it as an agent for change.

Recent statistics have shown that in Northern Ireland a domestic abuse incident occurred every 16 minutes*. Furthermore, on average victims will have to tell their story 27 times before accessing key service support. The Family Justice Centre seeks to provide the necessary support to address these issues**.

Marie Brown, CEO of Foyle Women’s Aid & Foyle Family Justice Centre explains,

“Partners of the Foyle FJC recognise that no one agency can tackle domestic and sexual abuse and violence and are committed to working collaboratively with a range of voluntary and statutory organisations. The Foyle FJC will house representatives from over 20 agencies, and will provide a broad range of specialist services, removing barriers and gaps in service for all victims of domestic and sexual abuse and those vulnerable and disenfranchised by their community. Our vision is to save lives and deliver bespoke, co-ordinated, victim-centred services to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. The centre is a place where agencies come together, and families come first.”

The Family Justice Centre model, pioneered in the United States, is a multiagency, multidisciplinary co-located service centre, which provides assistance to victims and survivors of interpersonal violence, including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder or dependent adult abuse and human trafficking. The purpose of a Family Justice Centre is to reduce re-traumatisation by reducing the number of times survivors must retell their stories and make it easier for survivors and victims to access the necessary services, to enhance their safety and increase offender accountability. As a result, lives will be saved and incidents, crimes and repeat victimisation in the area will reduce.”

Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said:

“With the opening of The Family Justice Centre, domestic violence and abuse will be dealt with as a grave human rights violation requiring the concerted efforts of all agencies. This is good for victims and the authorities charged with protecting them”

Judge Barney McElholm commented:

“The opening of the Family Justice Centre is the culmination of many years of hard work by so many people, particularly Foyle Women’s Aid. The Centre will be a shining beacon in the darkness of the lives of so many silently suffering victims of domestic abuse.”

To find out more about the Foyle Family Justice Centre or to refer to its services please contact: 02871416800

ENDS

Photo caption (left to right): The Right Hon Dame Siobhan Keegan, Doctor Chan Hellman, Marie Brown, Judge Barney McElholm, Alyson Kilpatrick

Above statement issued on behalf of Foyle Women’s Aid by Lemonade Marketing.

Notes to Editor

*Domestic Abuse Incidents and Crimes Recorded by the Police in Northern Ireland Update to 31st March 2022

**Foyle Women’s Aid independent research

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