VICTIMS of domestic abuse and sexual violence shared their stories to help borough chiefs better understand how to deliver services.

Cheshire East Council staff, service users and partner agencies joined together to challenge one another to improve the ways domestic abuse and sexual violence are responded to across the borough.

The event, held at Middlewich Community Church, marked White Ribbon Day on November 25 - otherwise known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Saskia Ritchie, chief executive of Cheshire Without Abuse, spoke at the event, where tools and resources to support children were also discussed.

“Over the last 40 years we are proud to have forged strong relationships with partners as a core member of Cheshire East Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership,” she said.

“Events such as this provide an invaluable opportunity for us to get together, share learning and explore new ways of working, so that together we can help more people open the door to safety and support them through the challenges they face.

“Service users are the experts in what help and support is needed, so it’s also important that they help shape all that we do.”

Attendees also heard about Operation Enhance, an early-intervention initiative being undertaken by Cheshire Police and the Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) service.

The initiative runs during weekends and Monday daytimes, and allows police and IDVAs to see victims in the immediate aftermath of an incident to support them through their choices and safety plans.

A dedicated police officer and an IDVA jointly assess the domestic abuse incidents reported and carry out face-to-face follow-up visits to each victim, providing specialist information, advice and support.

Cllr Jos Saunders, CEC cabinet member for children and families, added: “Domestic abuse can happen to anyone – no matter who you are, your gender, background, what you do or where you live – and tackling it remains a top priority in Cheshire East.

“Events such as today’s inspire new conversations about how we can work with services, users and our partners to help people as early as possible in their experience of an unhealthy relationship – encouraging them to take the first steps to support.”

If you are affected by domestic abuse or you are concerned for someone else, call CEC’s domestic abuse hub on 0300 123 5101 at any time.

In an emergency, always call 999.