Violence Against Women and Girls: This Apprentice describes her experience as a volunteer

This article has been written for us by Dipika, one of this years ITV Apprentices. Thanks for your input on this Safeguarding topic Dipika and good luck at University next year.

Bawso currently runs projects supporting over 2000 people every year in Wales through the

provision of four purpose built refuges, two safe houses, and an extensive Outreach and Resettlement

Programme and Floating Support Programme. We provide support, advice and information from our

offices in Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Caerphilly, Swansea and Wrexham.

I work in BAWSO as a volunteer. I began working there in 2012. I first heard about BAWSO

as my mother started working there shortly before myself. She was so moved by some of the stories

she heard about little girls (such as myself) that she was compelled to get me involved in any way

possible. BAWSO deal with a lot of sensitive issues; such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Forced

Marriage, Under-age abuse and Battered Women. They deal with the Black and Ethnic Minority

(BME) community, as that is where a lot of the issues lay. This is due to either religious beliefs,

cultural differences or upbringings. There are many different layers to BAWSO as what we deal

with are very delicate matters. I started working on calls; this is a 24 hour service if anyone has any

worry or concerns. BAWSO provided me with the phone in question which I had to carry with me and

answer whenever it rang. I did this for about three weeks until there was an incident. A young girl had

suddenly stopped attending school and her teachers were concerned, so they contacted us. After we

sent in the investigation team, we extracted the girl and put her in a safe house. It was at this time I

needed to get a CRB check. CRB checks were done in three stages; Basic, Standard and

Enhanced. I had to get a Standard Check as I was dealing with delicate information. However it didn’t

need to be Enhanced as I myself was still under-age.

The young girl was too frightened to talk to anyone else at the office so they brought me in to

talk to her which she was more comfortable with. She told me everything so we could get it all sorted.

This was my first experience with Forced Marriage. After this I was sent on a number of courses to do

with Forced Marriage, FGM and such things like that. The courses explained everything from how to

spot if something is wrong, to how to deal with sensitive information amongst other things.

Collectively all the courses and things I went on took about three months. Each course had

different information and helped me further my development. After the three month training period, I

was promoted to a support worker. My role from then on was to help the ‘clients’ we had come in to

make them feel at home and comfortable above anything else. Now I have a few more responsibilities

such as dealing with all the paperwork for my client cases and helping support them throughout their

time with us and beyond.