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Driving change in safeguarding

From 2018 – July 2019 Soroptimist International of Lichfield and District worked in partnership with Staffordshire Police on the “Driving Change” project to provide 150 safeguarding packs for distribution to local driving instructors by their then Partnership Manager, SI Lichfield & District Vice President, Marisha Place…

Driving Instructors spend an hour or two alone in a car with a person and hold a unique and important position within local communities. To someone suffering from abuse of any form, this engagement provides a safe environment where they are free from harm and are not accompanied by anyone who controls them. This is a brief period of escape from what could be an exceedingly difficult and dangerous home life.

The driving instructor’s car may be the only safe place they have where they are allowed to go without their abuser.

"Driving Change" Safeguarding Packs
“Driving Change” Safeguarding Packs

The safeguarding pack provides driving instructors with the information to spot vital opportunities to intervene and potentially save the lives of people experiencing domestic abuse. There may be many reasons why they may not want to report what is happening to them to the police, but may feel more comfortable speaking to another agency, who can offer them valuable support and guidance. The pack’s contents include;

  • A pen with a helpline number
  • Trolley token on key ring with helpline number
  • Safe place sign
  • Definitions of domestic abuse
  • Spotting the signs
  • ‘Survival card’ offering information on national and local charities and support services
  • Community information recording form

The Staffordshire Police Partnership Manager offered the packs and had a training conversation explaining the material and contacts, and the expectations of the instructors. The driving instructors were contacted via email, telephone and in person at the driving test centre. Marisha also reassured them that the expectations from them as to what they should do and what advice they should give when a disclosure was made by a pupil are NOTHING and NONE! 

Instead the advice given to the driving instructors was not to try to manage the risk on their own but to telephone the police if there was an immediate safeguarding risk, where police could offer practical advice and support. Otherwise, the survival cards contained in the packs show details of national and local charities and support services for signposting if the need is not immediate or urgent.

Driving instructors with their domestic abuse safeguarding packs
Marisha Place and driving instructors with their safeguarding packs

100 driving instructors had training and received the safeguarding packs. The driving test centre allowed Marisha to hot desk for a couple of weeks in their building, and the driving instructors themselves were extremely receptive towards the project and the safeguarding pack. 


Find out more about our work on Domestic Abuse here