Aurora New Dawn is celebrating its ongoing partnership with the Army for Armed Forces Day.
As the main charity providing this type of specialist support to the British Army, Aurora New Dawn has recently been funded to deliver its advocacy support for another three years thanks to the Army Central Fund. An independent charity, the Army Central Fund disperses over £2.5 million a year to support projects and activities that contribute to the well-being of serving soldiers and their families. Their mission is to make life better for serving Regular and Reserve Army Personnel and their immediate families.
Aurora has worked in partnership with the Army Welfare Service (AWS) since 2018 to offer a bespoke package of support to victims and their families who are affected by domestic abuse, sexual violence, and stalking.
Shonagh Dillon CEO at Aurora New Dawn says: “The AWS is a key partner in our work with victims, they have been instrumental in our work within forces communities. The key to ensuring victims feel supported lies in the strength of our relationships with AWS. We work together to ensure that victims are offered independent support from Aurora, but just as importantly we want to ensure that they understand what support is available to them from the Army’s own services.”
In addition to the funding, the charity will be launching a new service later this year to support victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking who are either working for the Royal Navy, or spouses or partners of those serving within the Royal Navy.
Speaking of the new collaboration, Dr Shonagh Dillon, Aurora’s CEO, said:
“We are delighted to be working with the Royal Navy again and are soon to be launching a service for Royal Navy personnel and their dependents who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.
“We understand that forces life is different to civilian life and we are proud to offer bespoke services to victims and survivors in the Royal Navy communities.
“We are really looking forward to continuing our work with colleagues in the forces; together, we can ensure that victims and survivors receive specialist, independent support tailored to their needs.”
As part of the new service, Aurora New Dawn’s Director of Policy Practice and Development, Zoe Jackson, will also be providing domestic abuse and sexual violence awareness and response training to Royal Navy police divisional officers at RNAS Culdrose in July. Zoe said:
“Providing support to victims and survivors is just one part of the service. This work goes hand in hand with the training we provide, ensuring that staff can effectively and sensitively handle disclosures of domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking situations with confidence.
“In the last five years the way we work with the Army has developed and it has become a true partnership. We are now proud members of the Armed Forces Covenant, and have received the bronze award in the Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme.”
The Army Advocate service launched in 2018 to support personnel and their dependents, aged 16 and over, with independent advice and guidance from people who know how the military works. From practical to emotional support, Army Advocates are members of the forces community themselves and help victims to take the right course of action for them, from liaising with the right agencies to moving forward, to navigating the court process.
The demand for help is constant, and in 2022 a second Army Advocate was recruited to meet demand. Between June 2022 and May 2023, 77 women and men were supported through the specialist service, for domestic abuse (82%), stalking (17%) and sexual violence (1%).
One such client is Mrs M*, who moved to the UK to be with her husband when he was serving in the Army. Within weeks he was physically abusing her and no matter what she did, she says: “He just got so comfortable beating me”. The Army Advocates worked with the Army Families Federation to secure Mrs M’s visa and enable her to work, liaised with housing agencies to obtain a local authority flat and supported her as she began divorce proceedings.
Speaking of her own experience supporting victims of domestic abuse within the British Army, Aurora New Dawn Army Advocate Lynne Thompson said:
“The majority of our clients come to us with a great deal of fear. Army life is different to civilian life – while the survivor knows that they need help, they may be scared to share what they’re going through with colleagues or friends. Many victims also don’t know what support and options are available to them, or what they are entitled to and what would happen to them if they disclose the abuse. It can be terrifying – the people who come to us are incredibly brave, and it is our job to explain what options may be available, offer them emotional support and advocate for them.
“We are incredibly happy to now be in a position where we are able to continue our Army Advocates service for another three years as well as expand into the Royal Navy. It will enable us to help more and more victims and survivors on their first step toward healing from the abuse they have been subjected to.”
* not her real name
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