Tell us a bit about The Willow Project… 
EB: According to the Captive & Controlled report, domestic abuse lasts 25% longer in rural areas, mainly due to geographic isolation. Information on abuse isn’t spread as widely in these communities either, so a lot of rural people do not realise there is abuse happening in their own towns and villages. Also, because abuse lasts longer, there is a greater chance that it will escalate to a more serious level. So our service is really needed to educate those people that don't realise abuse happens, through providing training and awareness workshops across the county.  

Why are you involved in the project?  
SP: Before getting this job, I didn't know a lot about RAD, and I didn't know about domestic abuse, especially rural domestic abuse. I had no idea about it. It's not something that's discussed amongst any of my friends, family or anyone I know at all. So it was sort of a learning curve for me. It sparked the interest and it's something that I've become quite passionate about, because there are so many people around me who don't know about it. So I’m happy to be learning and trying to pass that knowledge on to other people. 

What are you most proud of from your time working on this project? 
EB: For me, probably helping to develop the short film The Willows. There are some distinct parts of the film that I helped to influence, like insisting that they all had to do a Derbyshire accent! I’m proud of the input that I had in developing that. I am also really proud of the podcast, The Willow Pod. I enjoy talking to other people and it's just fun to do. 

SP: Mine would probably be just the awareness that we are raising, the amount of people we’re helping - and that just keeps on increasing.  

How is the service managing at the moment? 
SP: A month after we launched our service, we had the first COVID lockdown - so we instantly had to move training online. Despite the success of that, we would like to get back to some face-to-face sessions again. People have got so used to doing everything online, which means we do sometimes have a bit of a challenge reaching people. It's quite hard to get your name out there without that in-person presence, because it's a very sensitive subject.  

EB: We have plans to head out to some events so we can kickstart that face-to-face interaction with people again, so we’ll hopefully be expanding that side of the service soon.  

You can find out more about our domestic abuse support on The Willow Project webpage