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Women's Aid Monmouthshire (WAIMON)

Women's Aid Monmouthshire (WAIMON) is the lead domestic abuse agency in Monmouthshire. It is a charity that provides practical and emotional support, information and refuge to women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse, or have experienced domestic abuse in the past. WAIMON won the 'Empowering Survivors' category at the 2014 Promoting Independence Awards.

Many of the boys and young males WAIMON work with have witnessed or experienced domestic abuse, and have suffered emotionally and physically through living in a situation of fear in their own home.

These boys had often experienced males who were frightening and intimidating. They were also exposed to criticism of men and sometimes specifically their own fathers, which was having an impact on their sense of identity and self-worth. Boys who have witnessed domestic abuse for a number of years may become abusive and controlling, and some boys have no contact with reliable, kind, positive role models.

This experience of abuse often leads to behavioural and psychological problems. Children often take on the role of protector or carer, which can lead to feelings of guilt. Keeping abuse a secret can lead to not communicating with others and not knowing who to trust. The emotional impact of abuse is shown to be pervasive and long lasting.

WAIMON’mentoring project is designed to empower children who have survived domestic and/or sexual abuse. It provides an opportunity for children who have experienced domestic abuse to receive intensive support in their own right.

The project currently supports boys aged between 5 and 18 through a combination of one to one mentoring and group work and aims to empower boys and young males who have survived domestic abuse by nurturing their self-worth. A mentor is dedicated just to supporting that child and they are volunteers. The boys’ energy is channelled into projects that give them a sense of personal achievement and the mentors provide aspirational ideas about who they can be and what they can do when they are older.

The mentoring is run on a solution focused basis and is about empowering boys to use their strengths rather than focus on their weaknesses or problems. For boys who may have been labelled difficult or challenging at school or at home, this can be very powerful. The mentors are trained to help the child see themselves in a more positive way and the project aims to build resilience and to support children to find the motivation and life skills to move forward.

Mentors see the boys one to one every week for a year. They see the boys out of the home environment and encourage the children to help with ideas about what to do on the sessions. The boys are given a budget of £30 a month, which they help to manage, to spend on activities and WAIMON set 3 goals that the child and mentor work on together over the year to help promote a sense of achievement. The mentoring is about encouraging the child to develop in confidence and mentors are trained to build this into the session plans.

Over a year WAIMON have seen a dramatic increase in the confidence and self-esteem of the children involved. The mentoring encourages children to see different places, try new activities and shows them that they can trust other people.

Children’s attendance at school is an important factor for their long term success. All of the children had improved attendance after the mentoring took place. One of the children had his first ever “good” on a school report and has managed to achieve his goal of climbing Snowdon.

The boys on the mentoring programme improve their social skills such as sharing and taking turns that enable them to make friends more easily. One boy who has just finished the mentoring has friends for the first time who come to the house, and he now gets invited to play with other children. Another boy has been learning about winning and losing with his mentor. This has enabled him to socialise much more successfully and engage more in team sports and activities.

Mentoring helps children to understand boundaries and their behaviour at school improves. One child has gone to comprehensive school this in September. Before the mentoring the primary school were very concerned about the transition, but he has been doing his homework and is responding to his mother and teachers in a much more positive way.

Mentoring has also helped boys to maintain friendships and family relationships. The fact that the mentor spends a whole year with one child means they build up a trusting relationship which provides a sense of security for children who may have had a lot of disappointment, chaos and confusion. They learn to trust adults and then are more able to trust family members again. All of the children being mentored last year reported a more positive relationship with their family. Parents have described their child as less aggressive and less likely to have tantrums.

Another benefit the mentoring provides is simply the opportunity to have fun, problem free time away from home. It provides protected time away from any stress or anxieties they may experience at home or at school. Mentors and mentees are encouraged to access the outdoors and the natural environment as much as possible. This is proven to have a positive impact on children’s mental and physical health. The children supported have all said that they enjoyed their time with their mentor and schools report that children appear to be less stressed. Most parents report improvements in eating and sleep patterns as the mentoring progresses.

Key outcomes

  • 100% of the children who had a mentor for a year went from having significant behavioural difficulties to having no significant behavioural difficulties.
  • 60% of the children who had a mentor for a year had no behavioural difficulties at all.
  • 100% of the children reported that they felt safer.
  • 95% of the children reported that they felt happier at home and at school

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    © Cymorth Cymru 2022 | Company Registration No: 5093332 | Charity No: 1116774
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    © Cymorth Cymru 2022
    Company Registration No: 5093332
    Charity No: 1116774