Forced marriage and school holidays

As the school holidays approach and travel restrictions are lifted, there is a risk of children being taken abroad, and being forced to marry. Forced marriage is illegal.

We need to stay alert to Signs of children and young people being in potential danger of Forced Marriage. It is important to act quickly, without alerting family members or friends who may be part of the plans.

Find out how to get help

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) service directory

What this service directory covers

Any victim of abuse deserves to access support and help regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

The directory is aimed at those who want help and professionals who would like to refer people experiencing abuse, as well as perpetrators of abuse, to supporting services.

Please note that details for specialist services change on a regular basis due to insecure and uncertain funding streams, so please check that details are correct before giving out to service users.

You can see more about the 16 days of activism here.

Directory of support services

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What is violence against women and girls?

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is both a form of discrimination and a violation of human rights. Which includes a wide range of abusive behaviours including physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse.

The 3 Rs - dealing with disclosures


  • Create a safe space - speak in privacy
  • Listen to what the victim is saying
  • Try not to interrupt or ask lots of questions
  • Don’t worry if they stop talking - silences are ok
  • Explain confidentiality - they need to know what will happen and that you have a duty of care. They will appreciate your honesty and transparency


  • Affirm, validate and believe
  • Do tell them immediately that you believe them
  • Take it seriously – remember how difficult it is to disclose abuse and ask for help
  • Be non-judgemental – they should not feel that they are being pressurised or judged by people they approach for help, even if they have made a previous decision to return to or take back their abusive partner
  • Contain your own feelings. It’s important not to look shocked or horrified as this may reinforce feelings of shame
  • Acknowledge their trust in disclosing to you and highlight their courage and strength in taking the positive steps to getting support


  • Be sensitive to their needs – be wary of who you use as an interpreter; some communities are small, and the interpreter may know the victim and their family
  • Help them make their own decisions and when presented with options, empower them to make their own choices - don’t take over
  • Offer appropriate referrals for support and signpost or refer as client wishes
  • Ensure that they are aware of who you are going to tell
  • Feedback what they say (mirroring) if you need to respond
  • Stress to them that the abuse is not their fault and that no-one deserves to be abused, no matter what they do
  • Don’t forget to ask for help if you need support
  • Prioritise safety – this could be their one chance to get help. Do they have somewhere safe to stay? Help them to plan how they will keep safe
  • Know your safeguarding duty – have you made appropriate safeguarding referrals? Are there matters of national security to consider?

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Free training

To enhance your skills and update your knowledge on the VAWG strands, you can access free Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) training. This is a multiagency training programme for professionals from the statutory, voluntary and community sectors to identify and respond effectively and appropriately to issues relating to VAWG.

Courses covered

  • domestic abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • harmful  practices
  • prostitution
  • trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation
  • stalking and harassment

For more information on these courses please email:

Referral forms

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Emergency out of hours services

Tower Hamlets support

Tower Hamlets support

Emergency services

Police, Ambulance and Fire Services

In an emergency call 999

non-emergency call 101

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999, then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without having to speak.

Address: 12 Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9NZ

The Royal London, BARTS and Mile End Hospital

24-hour, seven days a week consultant-led emergency service and major trauma centre, available with triage, nurse practitioners, CT scanning, cardiac arrest team, paediatric care, decontamination facilities and specialist opinion from all major specialities, including minor injuries, acute mental health problems, and complications in pregnancy. This is the local hospital for residents of Tower Hamlets.

Switchboard tel: 020 7377 7000

Direct number tel:020 3594 6371

Tower Hamlets Social Care Emergency out of Hours Duty Team

For concerns about children or vulnerable adults.

Tel: 020 7364 4079

5pm – 9pm, 24 hours Saturdays, Sundays and Bank holidays

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Pan-London and national services

Pan-London and national services

National Domestic Violence Helpline


Run by Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. Call this number to search for refuge spaces.

The Helpline can give support and information over the telephone and is staffed by fully trained female helpline support workers. All calls are completely confidential.

Translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing are available.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week 

Tel: 0808 2000 247



For those affected by crime and in need of support or information.

They are independent of the police and anyone can contact them for support, regardless of whether the crime has been reported or how long ago it took place.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Tel: 0808 689 111


Confidential emotional support for anyone experiencing distress or despair, including those who may feel suicidal.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week  

Telephone: 116 123 (24 hour)



Free 24-hour helpline for children. Trained volunteer counsellors provide advice, comfort and support to children and young people who may feel they have nowhere else to turn.

 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Tel: 0800 1111

NSPCC helpline

Provides help and support to parents, professionals and families. Adults can contact by phone or online to get advice or share their concerns about a child, anonymously if they wish.

It's staffed by professional practitioners with backgrounds in jobs like teaching, healthcare and social work. Who know how to spot the signs of abuse and what to do to help.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Tel: 0808 800 5000

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VAWG strategy

The 2019-2024 VAWG strategy aligns with the our Strategic Plan committed to the outcome of making ‘people feel safer in their neighbourhoods and anti-social behaviour is tackled’.

The VAWG Strategy has three key priorities:

  • Support and protection for victims
  • Bringing perpetrators to justice
  • Engage with communities and challenge misogyny.