Queens Park Community Orchard team extends coronavirus response to domestic abuse

Domestic abuse

Statistics suggest that more than 7,000 people in Bedford experience domestic abuse each year, and during lockdown, many people have been trapped in impossible situations.

To help combat domestic abuse, members of the Queen’s Park Community Orchard (QPCO) team who work with victims in their day-to-day employment have come together to examine how services can be extended throughout their community.

In response, QPCO have developed a new initiative during Covid-19 which seeks to meet unmet needs and make victims’ lives safer.

“The service will make real practical changes in the victim’s life,” said Marie-Ange Comerford-Raillon, secretary of QPCO.

Safety is a real concern for victims of domestic abuse.

“On leaving a refuge some domestic abuse survivors become anxious as they are leaving for an unknown environment or for victims who have been rehoused in temporary accommodation and victims who have decided to remain in their own home and the perpetrator has moved out,” explained Marie-Ange.

“By offering adding security to the property, Queen’s Park Community Orchard aim to create a safer environment.

“We are also aware of victims with upcoming cases at Luton Crown Court who were unable to attend as they did not have any recourse to public fund to cover their costs.

“For this reasons we are offering travel bursaries. Language barriers have also stopped many victims in getting help and we feel that our interpreter service would be able to support them in accessing essential services.”

The QPCO response has been funded by Bedfordshire Luton Community Foundation (BLCF) as part of the Bedfordshire Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund to create this free service.

Eric Masih, Chair of QPCO said, “This is the fourth project that QPCO has been running over the Covid 19 period.

“The food parcels delivery project has delivered to over 200 people and signposted many families to other organisations or welfare services. It has now been extended for another three months and a young girl called Hilda who is in year 12 at Bedford Girls’ School has  joined us and is helping this project.

“The PPE project for the NHS has delivered over 1,000 theatre gowns to Bedford Hospital, coordinated by Kam Basra. We worked closely with Bedford Hospital Charity and Friends and Dr Oakley.

“We also made over 200 masks which were distributed in the community, helped by a year 7 pupil called Durryiah from Biddenham upper school who joined the army of volunteers to make them.

“All of these projects have been possible because of our volunteers rallying together and wanting to make a difference for their community. I could not be more proud of the organisation.

Fsella Afzal-Pagliari , Community wellbeing champion for Bedfordshire Rural Communities charity (BRCC) and member of QPCO committee said, “As wellbeing champion covering Queen’s Park Ward, one of the biggest challenges I face is supporting vulnerable people where English is not their first language.

“By QPCO, having a database of bilingual volunteers to act as interpreters it will fulfil a much-needed gap in the ethnically diverse town of Bedford where over 100 languages are spoken and assist residents in accessing essential services and being able to receive the support they need.

“The interpreting service will be a lifeline for many other organisations as often they will not have access to a database or the funding to pay such activities.”

Do you speak another language?

If so, Queens Park Community Orchard is looking for freelance paid interpreters. They are building a database of interpreters of different languages and dialects which speakers can offer to the community.

As interpreters, they will facilitate communication whether the conversation takes place over the phone, or in person. If you can help, contact us 01234 480660 or email qpco.bedford@gmail.com.