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#16Days- “Making a difference …as a volunteer” – Paula’s Blog

My name is Paula and my day job for the last 23 years has been working within the Criminal Justice System, I have always been passionate about delivering the best possible service to victims of sexual violence and supporting them through the court process.  I always want to get the best possible outcome for victims and in the early years of my service I naively thought this was just about getting a conviction at court & the longest prison sentence possible.  

My perspective on this changed when a friend was raped, I saw on a personal level the devastating effect it had on her and how her first priority wasn’t about putting the perpetrator in prison but more about how she was going to live the rest of her life dealing with what had happened.  Her trust had been shattered, her view of the world changed and she often thought she would never feel safe again.  I realised then that there was so much more that needed to be done beyond the Criminal Justice process to support victims and educate everyone about the causes and effects of sexual violence.

I was offered the opportunity to become a member of the board of trustees for ARCH NE around 8 years ago, taking the role of Chair after 3 years.  This role is voluntary and involves being part of a team of trustees who are responsible for the governance of the charity.  We come from different professional backgrounds and have a broad range of experience which helps us to support the CEO and wider ARCH NE team to deliver on the business plan and meet our Charitable Objectives.  

The position of chair carries a lot of responsibility but it is also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.   I can honestly say that I enjoy every minute of working with the ARCH team, they are an amazing group of people who are passionately dedicated to improving the lives of victims, families and communities within Teesside.  If anyone is thinking about how they could do more to help support women and girls who experience sexual violence then I would definitely recommend getting involved with a local charity like ARCH NE, you will find it a very rewarding role and I am so proud of the work we do.

There are too many examples of victims who have been subject to sexual violence and it is concerning how reports continue to rise, that is why organisations like ARCH NE and the work we do is so important.  As part of my ARCH role I get to make a real difference to communities and see the positive influence that is made every day to the lives of victims and their families.   The inspirational stories of victims and how they have managed to overcome adversity has moved me on many occasions, they are some of the strongest people I know.          

As a Detective and a mother of three daughters the reality of gender based violence never leaves me, my aspiration is that no other woman EVER has to experience violence at the hands of a man again.  Until that time comes I will ensure that ARCH NE and all of the partners we work with continue to provide the best possible service and support to victims and their families.

We all have our part to play in eradicating gender based violence #EndGenderBasedViolence

Paula is a Senior Detective who works for Cleveland Police. She is currently working within the Historical Investigation Unit, a Home Office funded post created to investigate non recent offences (including sexual violence) committed against females in the Teesside area.  The unit is also responsible for the investigations into the Murders of Donna Keogh, Victoria Glass & Rachel Wilson.