Innovation Exchange

Domestic Abuse Pathway


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Further Information

The Pathway Project (Pathway) is designed to provide a coherent pathway and accessibility of services for victims of domestic abuse and their children. The project is funded until March 2017.


The Safer Communities team within SBC manages the project in partnership with Children1st but draws on the expertise, skills and knowledge of its core partners – Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Anti-social Behaviour Unit, Alcohol and Drugs Partnership who are all co-located. The overall aim of Safer Communities is to “make the Scottish Borders a safer place to live, work and visit” through effective partnership working.


The Pathway project consists of three interlinked services:

• Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support (DAAS) Service

• Domestic Abuse Community Support Service (DACS)

• Children Experiencing Domestic Abuse Recovery (CEDAR) group work programme.


These services work alongside existing service provision to achieve improved outcomes for victims of domestic abuse and their children. Pathway is the first phase of the development of a coordinated community response that requires further work with partners / communities to embed

Theme: Partnership and Collaboration

scottish borders council

The partnership approach taken by the Pathway project has significantly improved the outcomes for victims and their children by ensuring effective information sharing, clear referral routes and a shared understanding/common language across a range of statutory and voluntary sector partners.


Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support (DAAS Service)

The DAAS service consists of two adult advocates, a service manager and a service administrator and is a specialist service, designed to provide short-term crisis intervention and support to both male and female high risk victims of domestic abuse. Victims and their families are supported following the initial incident through risk assessment, safety planning, any court proceedings and are referred on to support services, such as the DACS service. All adult victims who have children are offered the DACS Children and Young People’s service. The main activity is the provision of advocacy and the management of risk.


Domestic Abuse Community Support Service (DACS)

CHILDREN1st deliver the Domestic Abuse Community Service (DACS) offering medium to long term practical and emotional support to those victims of domestic abuse who are assessed as not at high risk of further abuse – both male and female. This is delivered out in Scottish Borders communities and provides specialist workers for both adults and children.


Children Experiencing Domestic Abuse Recovery (CEDAR) group work programme

CEDAR is a 12 week concurrent group work programme for children and their mothers to support their recovery from domestic abuse. Families taking part should be living in a safe place with low risk of further incidents of domestic abuse. Seventeen volunteer co-facilitators from eight partner agencies support the delivery of groups.


Before Pathway was launched in 2012, the number of victims of domestic abuse referred to specialist services locally was about 100 per year. Since the launch, on average of 378 people per year (1127 overall) adult clients have been referred. From these adult referrals, 575 children were identified by DAAS. DACS received 131 child referrals and CEDAR received 67 referrals for group work programme. The number of adult victims in abusive households who have been supported to find safety has improved dramatically in the Borders as a result of the Pathway Services being launched. The DAAS service has shared information with 70+ services in the course of its work; importantly, many of these were the police, criminal justice, children’s services, housing services, homelessness, health services and solicitors. DAAS referred clients on to 44 different services at case closure, including other Pathway services. Of the children identified by DAAS, 109 accepted the offer of support, and 94 of these children were worked with during the period 2012-2014. The 3 interlinked Pathway Services use the GIRFEC principles and Wellbeing Indicators as central to all work when delivering services to children. Pathway PartnersThe registered social landlords have had a Unified Policy on Domestic Abuse since 2012 and have been pro-active in working with Pathway. There is an identified knowledge transfer of domestic abuse by the use of this policy. As well as being part of the multi-agency risk assessment conference for high risk victims of domestic abuse, the RSL’s are key in working with Pathway to support victims and their children with safe housing options, staff are trained in early identification of domestic abuse and for signposting to specialist services.  All RSL staff have had the opportunity to train as a Cedar Groupwork facilitators and in particular Berwickshire and Eildon Housing have been involved in the delivery of all seven cedar children and women’s groups. They have in turn taken the learning back to their own workplaces and this has also increased referrals to the Pathway. Pathway Case StudyFeedback from victim who has been through the Pathway - her and her five children have accessed the services of DAAS, DACS and CEDAR. “The Cedar project has been amazing for our whole family throughout this process.  My oldest two daughters have been going to take part in weekly groupwork sessions and there’s a huge difference in them.  One of my daughters wouldn’t even sit in a room with a man and she has such faith in the guy who runs the sessions. The look in her eyes tells me that her faith in men has been restored.  My other daughter had had nightmares and found it hard to fit in anywhere and now she has just blossomed into such a strong girl. The group sessions have made such a difference to me. I can just go in and let go and tell them things that I wouldn’t tell anyone else in the world.  You just sit in with a group of women that you feel that you have known all of your life. The project (DAAS and DACS) has helped me with advice and when I have needed help and they have even helped us get the house we are in now, as we all had to move for reasons of safety.  I know that they are there for me and my family any time, day or night.  It’s like an extended family. I feel like over the last two years I have come full circle if you will and I am a different person. I am here to raise my family for my boys to grow up to respect women and for my girls to become strong, confident women.  I think in some way I had to go through everything I went through to live the way I am living now.

An external evaluation conducted in 2015 provided a range of recommendations in relation to the existing Pathway project. In summary:


  • That the Pathway is a far-sighted, vital project that identified victims of abuse at the earliest stage and supports them and their children throughout their journey. This suggests the model of delivery is meeting the needs of people experiencing domestic abuse.
  • The Pathway project is meeting the needs people  referred to the DAAS/DACS and  CEDAR projects in relation to risk, safety and recovery.
  • There still exists significant un-met need in relation to people experiencing domestic abuse – population data would suggest a significant number of people (approx 100) who require support in order to start the recovery process.
  • There is a requirement for a resource to support clients through court processes.  Currently not a core part of the Pathway project but a significant gap.
  • There is a requirement for children/young people to have a dedicated resource in relation to court ordered contact – it is suggested a Children’s Rights Worker would enable children to be better heard in court.
  • Additional workforce development capacity would help DAAS/DACS and partner agencies to increase the knowledge and understanding of domestic abuse, risk assessment, risk management and case management.


Feedback from Pathway service users confirms that the project fully met their needs and that they would use the service again. Repeated use of services is a key feature of recovery from domestic abuse, and people who have experienced abuse sometimes need more than one intervention to feel confident that they are doing the right thing.

Feedback from children/young people indicates that they felt safer and listened to by Pathway staff. Data from DACS systems shows that 90% of children achieved improvements in the Wellbeing Indicators. Adults also achieved the vast majority of the indicators agreed in their Support Plans. Other consultation methods throughout the course of the evaluation included one-to-one interviews, group interviews, exit questionnaires, annoymous questionnaires, participatory film making and focus groups.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Andrea Beavon

Violence Against Women (VAW) Coordinator

Scottish Borders Council

07769 234 795

Case study added to site: June 2016

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