Star of the month sets up network in Bognor Regis to help LGBT domestic abuse survivors
When Caitlin Baker came out as a trans woman two years ago she wanted to help other people.
She started volunteering with My Sisters’ House women’s centre in Bognor Regis and was then employed on the domestic abuse team.
Yesterday (Wednesday) she was named star of the month by the national SafeLives domestic abuse charity.
She has also formed a Bognor Regis based charity to help those suffering domestic abuse in the LGBT+ community in the county.
Caitlin began volunteering for My Sisters’ House 18 months ago. “I wanted to do something to help,” she said.
“I was in a good place but I hadn’t been all my life.”
She was then asked to join the domestic abuse team one day a week. “One day became six days a week as everyone started working from home but everyone ringing in was using the office number, so I was taking most of the first contact calls,” she said.
Caitlin said she loved her work. “I was totally accepted by the women who work there and the women we support, which was amazing for me personally and helped with my transition.”
My Sisters’ House made her its star of the month, then she gained a High Sheriff volunteers award and finally a former colleague nominated her for the SafeLives star of the month. Announcing it yesterday coincided with the Transgender Day of Visibility aimed at raising awareness.
“Caitlin is a fantastic champion for the LGBT+ community and volunteers for the CPS VAWG forum, sharing her knowledge on domestic abuse,” SafeLives said.
Yesterday Caitlin left My Sisters’ House to set up the West Sussex LGBT Network CIC, with the support of West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police, helping domestic abuse survivors.
She is training to be an independent domestic abuse advisor, with just four nationally who work specifically with the LGBT community.
“I wanted to do something for the LGBT community as a whole,” she said. “LGBT people statistically have a higher chance of domestic abuse than the straight community.”
She said there was only national support available and ‘an awful lot of people didn’t like going to national charities’. Those in the community found they faced barriers to getting help and some were ignored. “They want to go somewhere and meet people,” she said.
Caitlin will work from home with her wife and four directors – two gay men and two gay women – aiming for funding and an office in town.
Contact the West Sussex LGBT Network CIC at [email protected]