Make a Change anti-harm scheme rolled out in Newcastle

Programme supports people worried over harmful behaviour to change and build healthy relationships.
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Cllr Paula Maines standing in front of a glass wall holding a sign saying its time to make a change. Includes the web address www.makeachange.uk.net

A new programme supports people who are worried about their behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner.

The Make a Change programme helps people concerned that they are hurting, scaring or controlling their partner to change their behaviour. Newcastle is the latest area to roll out the service, which is already available in Durham and Sunderland. Anyone can get in touch to ask for non-judgemental, free support, for themselves or someone else.

In Newcastle, Make a Change is provided by local charities Harbour and Changing Lives. The programme was developed by domestic abuse charities Respect and Women’s Aid Federation of England, and is funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, in partnership with Newcastle City Council.

Participants will be supported by Harbour’s expert support workers to understand the impact of their harmful behaviour, to make positive changes and develop healthy relationships.  

Lesley Hill, Make a Change Coordinator at Harbour, said: “This programme gives people who are worried about their behaviour a chance to get help to change as soon as possible. It’s somewhere they can learn about the effects harmful behaviour can have on the whole family and improve relationships with past, current or future partners. I’ve been part of delivering the programme in Durham and I’ve seen first-hand the difference it makes.”

One man who completed the programme said: “Make a Change has made huge changes to me and my family’s life. It’s given me hope. I can go forward understanding my boundaries and actions and the effect that they have on the ones around me. The tools I have gained are invaluable.”

Another central part of the programme is that partners and ex-partners of people taking part will be offered separate, confidential support by Changing Lives. This helps to identify the issues that are being experienced and improve safety and wellbeing.

Laura McIntyre, Head of Operational Services at Changing Lives, said: “We’re excited to partner with Harbour to offer another route to support for people in Newcastle. The way that the programme helps people at an early stage will mean we can reach more people experiencing harm from a partner or ex-partner and help them make the choices that are right for them.”

A woman whose partner completed the programme in another area said: “The most important thing was being heard. The support helped me realise how bad things had got. My support worker was absolutely wonderful and I can’t praise her enough.”

As well as working directly with people who are worried about their behaviour, and their partners and ex-partners, Make a Change offers support to the wider community to help people who have concerns about someone else’s relationship. Local organisations and professionals can join free training to understand harmful behaviour in relationships, learn how to spot the signs and approach the issue safely and effectively. Harbour’s support services will also offer wider help and alternative programmes for people who require different or more complex support.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “It’s fantastic we’re bringing the Make a Change programme to Newcastle and that we’re really growing its presence here in the North East so we can improve lives. Getting in there with the right response at the earliest opportunity before someone’s harmful behaviours continue and get worse is what this support is all about.  

“It provides people causing harm with the help they need to change by recognising and understanding the extent of the damage their behaviours have on their partner or ex-partner, and not forgetting the children too. It really is about prevention. With this work comes community and staff awareness raising too so everyone can play their part in spotting signs and shining a light on harmful behaviours as soon as possible and helping make a change.”

Cllr Paula Maines, Cabinet Member for a Resilient City, Newcastle City Council said: “I am proud that we are partnering with the Make a Change programme. It is a very positive step for Newcastle and shows our commitment to reducing the impact of people using harmful behaviour, on both adults and children, by tackling it at the root cause. This initiative is key to identifying and engaging with those individuals causing harm and helping them to understand, identify and reflect on harmful norms, behaviours and dynamics in their own lives.”

For more information, or if you are worried about you or your partner’s behaviour and want some support, call 03000 20 25 25, email info@myharbour.org.uk or visit the Make a Change website