Choice Support Worker Vacancy - April 2017

Are you interested in working with us in the Carmarthenshire area – helping to support older people who have experienced domestic abuse in their own homes?

You will also carry out community based work with older people and their families – helping to raise awareness of the issues around the domestic abuse of older people.

To find out more download the job description and person specification here.

Support Worker Job description April 2017

To apply, please go to the vacancy page on the Aberystwyth University website.

The closing date is Weds 3rd May so if you are interested, don’t delay!

Margaret Flynn Public Lecture


We were delighted with the fantastic response to the lecture given by Dr Margaret Flynn on 22nd March. The title of the talk was, "The imperfect art of safeguarding: learning from two reviews".

There was an excellent turnout from a very appreciative audience made up of practitioners from a wide range of disciplines, members of the public and university staff.

The subject matter was institutional abuse at Winterbourne View hospital and the neglect of older people living in care homes in Gwent, investigated as Operation Jasmine.

Margaret delivered an insightful lecture on both reviews, which was thought-provoking and balanced, and highlighted the horrific and worrying aspects of both cases.



Some of the lessons she highlighted from the two reviews were:

-  Concerned and curious vigilance matters

-  Faith in promises to reform has a poor track record

-  Too often, “Wait and see” = too little too late

-  Scandals fix nothing permanently

-  Citizens cannot rely on the conscience of care home owners to deliver valued care and support to frail older people

-  Grouping older people with dementia together in particular homes, without sufficient staff who are adequately managed, trained and supervised, is assumed, without evidence, to be acceptable practice on the grounds that they all have similar needs

The link below allow you to listen to Margaret’s lecture and the Q&A afterwards, and view the slides she used at the same time.

Download Margaret Flynn lecture audio and slides

Pictured below, Margaret (R) talking with Eurwen Booth (L) one of the project volunteers and Jeremy Newman, Project Coordinator.

Pictured below, Margaret with two of our student volunteers who helped on the evening.

L to R: Helen Holt, Margaret Flynn & Afsaneh Shahrokh.

Dr Margaret Flynn is Chair of the National Independent Safeguarding Board in Wales and the joint editor of the Journal of Adult Protection and has a wealth of knowledge of adult safeguarding.

She undertook the serious case review into the physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour at Winterbourne View Hospital in south Gloucestershire.

In December 2013, she was commissioned by the First Minister of Wales to undertake a review of the neglect of older people living in care homes in Gwent, investigated as Operation Jasmine.



Research in Practice for Adults Conference

The project attended the RiPfA, ‘Strengths-based social care practice with older people: Partnership Conference on 16th March.

Sarah, Rebecca and one of our volunteers, Eurwen Booth, helped to run a workshop with Dr Lucy Knight, on the subject of ‘Working with abuse in a strengths based way’.

L to R – Sarah Wydall & Rebecca Zerk

Our team looked specifically at how best to support older people to access justice.

The team found the day very interesting and thought-provoking, with a range of excellent presentations from speakers such as Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker, Dr Alisoun Milne, Jeremy Porteus, Dr Lucy Knight, Prof Jill Manthorpe, Imogen Blood and the Chair of the event, Dez Holmes, from RiPfA.

Below - Imogen Blood – talking on, 'Risk enablement ad assets based work with older people’.

Below – Dr Alisoun Milne, talking on the importance of good social work with older people.

Dyfed Powys Police & Crime Commissioner conference on 'Criminalising coercive control: increasing protection for victims'.

The project was very pleased to have been invited by Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys, to present at this seminar, held on St David's Day, March 1st.

The keynote speaker was Prof. Evan Stark, who originally coined the phrase, ‘coercive control’, and who played a major role in the consultation with the UK government that led to the drafting of the offence of coercive control.

Sarah presented on, ‘Domestic abuse and older people – a case of a few surprises’.

A copy of Sarah's presentation can be downloaded by following this link:
Coercive control presentation

Other speakers included Eleri Butler, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid, John Lloyd, CPS Wales and Sarah, a victim-survivor of coercive control.

Presenters at the conference:

Left to right: Prof. Evan Stark, Dafydd Llywelyn, Eleri Butler, Sarah, Sarah Wydall, John Lloyd

Dr Margaret Flynn - Public talk in Aberystwyth

 Public lecture by Dr Margaret Flynn

The Centre for the Study of Ageing, Abuse and Neglect at Aberystwyth University, is delighted to announce that Dr Margaret Flynn will be giving a public talk in Aberystwyth on the evening of Weds 22nd March 2017.

The title of the talk is, "The imperfect art of safeguarding: learning from two reviews"

  • The presentation considers the review concerning Winterbourne
    View Hospital
  • It introduces some familiar themes arising from such reviews
  • It highlights the challenges concerning the duty to report.


Dr Flynn is Chair of the National Independent Safeguarding Board in Wales and the joint editor of the Journal of Adult Protection and has a wealth of knowledge of adult safeguarding.

She undertook the serious case review into the physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour at Winterbourne View Hospital in south Gloucestershire.

In December 2013, she was commissioned by the First Minister of Wales to undertake a review of the neglect of older people living in care homes in Gwent, investigated as Operation Jasmine.

Details of the talk:

Date & time:   Weds 22nd March at 6.30pm.

Location:         Elystan Morgan Building, Primrose Hill, Llanbadarn campus, Aberystwyth,
                        SY23 3AS 

The talk will last approximately 45 minutes with a Q&A session afterwards.

Tea & coffee will be served from 6pm.

To allow us to have a clear idea of numbers likely to attend, please register your interest on Eventbrite by following the link below or email Jeremy Newman, Research Project Coordinator on

Cardiff launch January 25th 2017


We were all delighted to be able to officially launch the project in Cardiff on Weds Jan 25th, with a presentation to practitioners, partner agencies and organisations from within the statutory and third-sectors and some of our volunteers.

It was a wonderful opportunity to remind everyone why we felt there was such a strong need for the Choice project in the first place together with an update on where we are now.




Previous research - please visit the Research pages of this website to see links to relevant, previous reports from members of the project team.

Launch presentation - Rebecca Zerk and Sarah Wydall from the project presented to the meeting. They covered not just the previous research but also outlined the project objectives, our partner organisations, examples of the awareness raising activities, publicity campaigns and use of social media. Also that we use volunteers and have held focus groups looking at positive ageing and healthy relationships in later life. They also outlined how we will share our learnings at the end of the project.

You can watch the presentation by Sarah if you follow this link:

Choice Support Worker - we introduced our Choice Support Worker, Carmel Boston, seen below with Sarah Wydall. 

Carmel has been doing a fantastic job visiting community groups across Cardiff, raising awareness of the project and liaising with Social Services and the police. She is now looking forward to working with clients, ensuring they are fully aware of the options open to them and involved in all decisions made.

Pictured below Sarah Wydall (L) and Carmel Boston (R).

Guest speakers – thanks to both Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, and Bernie Bowen-Thomson, joint CEO of Safer Wales for speaking to the meeting.

A number of people commented afterwards on how aspects of the speech given by Sarah Rochira made them appreciate more than they had previously, just how complex it is dealing with elder abuse. The section of Sarah’s speech that really hit home was where she speculated, 'how far would my son have to go (if he were abusing her), before I reported him?’  

We will be working closely in the Cardiff area with Safer Wales, and would like to thank them for their support and the use of their offices for the launch meeting.

Thanks to the Big Lottery!!

We also took the opportunity in Cardiff to say a public ‘thank you’ to the Big Lottery for their significant funding of the project – to the sum of £890,000. Below are Sarah Rochira and Alan Clarke (Choice project) displaying the cheque!


The cake - We are also grateful to Charis Cakes, Cardiff for donating the Dewis Choice cake, which is seen below in the safe hands of (from L to R), John Williams, Sarah Wydall and Alan Clarke, (all Choice project), before being cut up by three of our volunteers and eaten by the guests!


Age Speaks radio show

February 16th 2017
The Dewis Choice Project’s Sarah Wydall was recently a guest on the Age Speaks radio show,

hosted by East London Radio (ELR), with gerontologist Mervyn Eastman. Age Speaks is a weekly, pre-recorded talk show, hosted by Mervyn, where he discusses issues related to age and ageing.  

Please follow the link to listen to the whole show:

Sarah discusses the innovative work of the Choice Project and the research behind it. 

Sarah also talks of the tireless work of individuals and agencies working in the field of domestic abuse and elder abuse, who support the work of the project.   

The range of topics covered, and times within the programme where you can find them discussed, are as follows:

The work of Hafan Cymru – Starts at 10 mins 30 secs

 The findings of the ‘Access to Justice’ study – Starts at 12 mins 50 secs

Access to Justice and Services - Starts at 21 mins 30 secs

Older People’s Ageing Network (OPAN) - Starts at 23 mins

Crimes against, and abuse of, older people in Wales.
Study commissioned by Sarah Rochira, the Older people’s Commissioner for Wales -
Starts at 25 mins 50 secs

The role of the Choice Support Worker - Starts at 28 mins 50 secs

Working with Social Services in Cardiff & Carmarthenshire - Starts at 32 mins

Support options available – restorative, criminal, civil and welfare - Starts at 33 mins 30 secs

How the project used design groups and community members - Starts at 39 mins 50 secs

Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) - Starts at 41 mins 40 secs

Mental capacity issues and the use of advocates - Starts at 44 mins

Male victims –Starts at 48 mins

Why elder abuse victims are reluctant to criminalise family members - Starts at 50 mins

Older People and Activism – Starts at 58 mins

Criminalising elder abuse - Starts at 1 hour & 4 mins                                   

Healthy Relationships in later life - Starts at 1 hour & 0 mins

Safeguarding and Domestic Violence in Wales - Starts at 1 hour & 9 mins

Going forward with the Choice project - Starts at 1 hour & 11 mins


Sarah Bainbridge February 3rd 2017

Week 4

Sarah Bainbridge

I cannot believe where the last four weeks have gone, and feel a little sad that my placement has come to an end, although I will continue to volunteer for the project in the future. 

I have learnt so much from my short time here, not just about the aims of the project, and the administration involved with running this type of project, but also about the many, often complex issues surrounding elder abuse, and of all the various agencies that work with older people.

I would like to thank the team for making me feel welcome, and for putting up with my endless tirade of questions (and for drinking all their coffee).  The knowledge and experience I have gained throughout the last four weeks, from the team and other professionals I have met, has been invaluable to me.  I have come across such passion in the people I have met, which has been contagious, and I aim to strive forward in my career with as much passion as those I have worked with. 

Thanks everyone.


Week 3

During my third week at the project, I mostly helped the team get ready for the launch in Cardiff, which took place on Wednesday 25th at the Safer Wales offices. 

It was a wonderful event that I was both honoured and proud to be a part of (despite the very early start), and which I enjoyed immensely.  I found it awe inspiring to listen to the team and both guest speakers talk about what the project means to themselves, service providers, policy makers and of course, most importantly for older people in Wales.

After the presentation it was really nice to meet and talk to some of the service providers and professionals, and it was wonderful to watch so many different agencies come together to support the project, forming close partnerships that are essential for effective practice.  Please keep an eye open on the website for a full report of the launch day, to be posted in the next few days.

The wonderful cake (pictured below) was kindly donated by Charis Cakes, Cardiff.



Restorative Approaches – Family Group Conferences

‌‌Written by Sarah Bainbridge

This week, I attended the Family Group Conference (FGC) Training, which was run from the Safer Wales office in Cardiff, and is an accredited course.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time on this course and met some really fantastic people, who were both very knowledgeable in their own fields and extremely friendly and supportive as a group. 

I have learnt so much about elder abuse, domestic violence, mental health and the many issues surrounding these, and also how these can impact on family, friends and neighbours.  I have written a brief outline of the training below, which I hope is interesting and useful for any other volunteers and/or practitioners, who may consider taking up this training in the future.


Day 1 – Tuesday 17th January

After brief introductions, our trainer, Linda Tapper, discussed the history of FGC and how it evolved from primarily being for youth services to encompass other aspects, such as vulnerable adults.  We were told how it can enable family members to communicate with each other, especially if there has been conflict or issues of safety and concern.  We discussed what and who is involved, and the process of co-ordinating an FGC, especially the time consuming in-depth preparation that needs to take place.  After discussion on the potential issues and pit falls of preparing an FGC and the best practice, we looked at partnership working, managing conflict and issues of mental capacity.


Day 2 – Wednesday 18th January

Today we discussed what constitutes abuse and the scenarios most common in FGC’s.  We also went into detail on the role and responsibility of the FGC co-ordinator, through to the initial meeting of the referrer, older person and their family members.  We were given a completed referral form to study and make notes on, to form the basis of our big role play for the following day. 

We each took turns to be the co-ordinator first meeting the referrer, and then the older person.  This was a really good exercise to get us thinking of all the different types of information and tact needed to facilitate an effective FGC.  At the end of the day, we were randomly assigned roles based on the referral form, with a small brief as to our ‘character’ for us to prepare for the FGC role play.


Day 3 – Thursday 19th January

Today we arrived at the training room ‘in character’ ready to start the FGC.  The trainer was assigned the co-ordinator role and explained to us all about the FGC (as family/older person).  Even though everyone was really nervous about doing the role play, everyone got right into character and we all thought it went really well.  It also showed us how the dynamics of such meetings can be very changeable, especially once the ‘family’ enters ‘private family time’ discussions. 

Once we had all been debriefed from the FGC and had discussed our feelings, thoughts etc, we watched a short DVD of another role play FGC.  We then looked at recording the outcomes of the FGC, including guidelines on writing up the action plan, the layout and the review meeting.  We closed the training with some valuable group discussions on our thoughts and feelings on FGC, which were quite positive.

On behalf of the Choice project I would like to thank Linda Tapper, for delivering an interesting and informative training course, and to Safer Wales, for the kind use of their facilities. 

For more information on Adult Family Group Conferences, please contact Linda Tapper 

To learn more about Safer Wales please visit

Group photograph from training course below.

Initial Thoughts From A New Starter

11th January 2017.

My name is Sarah and I will be working with the Choice project team on a full time basis over the next four weeks, as part of an Aberystwyth University Graduate placement scheme. This placement was made available to me after graduating last summer with a Criminology degree from Aberystwyth University.  I am really excited and honoured to be part of this innovative project as it highlights a very real issue, which the team are addressing. 

My personal aims during my time here, are to learn as much as possible about both the Choice project itself and also to learn about some of the real issues older people come up against when dealing with circumstances of abuse and their struggle to gain a sense of  justice. 

I also aim to take the knowledge I gain back to my own community, to help continue raising public awareness of elder abuse.  I will also write an update at the end of each week, with some (hopefully) interesting insights that I have gained throughout the week.

I have already learnt so much in my first week.  Such as how abuse can take on many different forms, such as financial abuse and also of neglect.  It is worrying how easy it can be for abuse to go largely ignored or unnoticed, especially if there are to be no criminal actions taken.  A real issue that the Choice team are investigating.

I will be attending the Family Group Conference training course in Cardiff next week, so keep an eye out for my blog towards the end of next week to see how I got on.  I will also endeavour to send updates via the project Twitter page @choiceolderppl throughout the training.

Written by: Sarah Bainbridge

Community engagement and publicising the project

There has been a great deal of activity recently as Sarah, Rebecca, Carmel and Elize have all been ‘on the road’ in London and Cardiff, engaging with local community groups, promoting the work of the project, supporting activity around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, (IDEVAW), White Ribbon events and attending the AEA Cymru conference.

The activities they have been involved in were:

Monday 21st November – AEA Cymru Conference, Cardiff


Elize attended the first AEA Cymru conference, which was held in City Hall, Cardiff.

The theme of the conference was, ‘Financially safe and secure? Working together to protect older people from financial abuse’.

Speakers in the morning included Dr Margaret Flynn, Chair of the National Independent Safeguarding Board of Wales; Ian Thomas, CEO Age Cymru; Rebecca Evans AM, Minister for Social Services and Public Health; Gary Fitzgerald, CEO, AEA; Eleri Butler, CEO Welsh Women’s Aid and Tony Neate, CEO, Get Safe Online.

A panel discussion was held examining some of the core concerns around financial abuse and a series of workshops were conducted in the afternoon before a final presentation by Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales and the closing remarks from Dr Margaret Flynn.

Rachael Nicholson-Wright, the AEA Cymru director kindly let us include an information sheet on the Choice project in the delegate packs.

Pictured L to R – Rachael Nicholson-Wright (AEA Cymru), Sarah Rochira (OPC for Wales) and Dr Margaret Flynn



November 22nd – Senedd, Cardiff IDEVAW event

Carmel and Elize attended a National Federation of Women’s Institutes - Wales cross-party event at the Senedd, sponsored by Joyce Watson AM, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

There were a number of interesting speakers dealing with a wide range of topics. Denise Puckett shared her experiences of being a domestic abuse survivor, who was upported by a workplace policy. Rebecca Walters, from the Admiral Group, highlighted the importance of domestic violence training in the workplace and Andrew White from Stonewall talked about the experiences of the LGBT community in accessing domestic abuse services.

Pictured L to R are Carmel and Elize:                                                                    

A group shot from the event:

November 23rd – AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) seminar

Sarah and Rebecca attended and presented at a seminar on ‘Older women – invisible victims of gender based violence and abuse’, organised by AVA (Against Violence and Abuse), in London.

Their presentation was on, ‘Barriers and enablers to help-seeking and engagement for victim-survivors of domestic violence and abuse’.

Pictured L to R: Sarah and Rebecca ready to present!


Information on the seminar and copies of the presentations given by all the speakers can be found on the following website:

It was a great opportunity to share some of the learning and experience gained from research carried out over previous years on a number of aspects of elder abuse.

Sarah and Rebecca were proud to have contributed to the ‘Domestic Homicide Review – Case Analysis’ report produced by Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, (STADV), a link to which is below:

STADV Dom Hom Review Nov 2016


November 24th – Sarah was a guest on the Age Speaks radio show


Sarah was the guest on the Age Speaks radio show, hosted by East London Radio (ELR), with gerontologist Mervyn Eastman. Mervyn was the first academic to use the term elder abuse and is very interested in the participatory aspect of our research.

Age Speaks is a weekly, pre-recorded talk show, hosted by Mervyn, where he discusses issues related to age and ageing.  The show featuring Sarah will be broadcast soon and we will update when it has aired. 

Mervyn was instrumental in helping to found and run Change Agents, which is a co-operative community benefit society.

Mervyn uses the Age Speaks show to promote the Change Agents, and hence, a more positive narrative about growing older.


November 25th - International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) – White Ribbon Day

Candle lit walk – Cardiff


More information of the IDEVAW can be found on the United Nations website, following the link below:


Sarah, Rebecca and Carmel joined many other people on the walk to Llandaff Cathedral, in support of White Ribbon Day.

Our two youngest volunteers, Neave and Erin, produced the banners that Sarah, Rebecca and Carmel held on the walk.



November 25th - Workshop with Women Connect First

Sarah, Rebecca and Carmel carried out a workshop discussing positive ageing and healthy relationships in later life with members of Women Connect First and their Golden Years project.

Women Connect First was established in March 2001 to empower Black & Minority Ethnic women (BME) in Cardiff and South East Wales by offering a range of services and training in order to improve livlihoods and employability.

The organisation has moved on since, expanding its services.

At present they cater for a wider client group and offer a range of services including advice, advocacy, counselling and a wide range of training programmes and volunteering opportunities amongst others.

They target disadvantaged, isolated and marginalised communities, who are experiencing multiple layers of depravation, discrimination and exclusion in accessing services and employment.

The Golden Years project is aimed at finding ways of addressing the economic and social issues faced by older BME women, in an integrated way.


Monday 28th Nov - Concourse of Heath hospital Cardiff. Monday.

Carmel spent time on the Cardiff Women’s Aid stand, raising awareness of the Choice project and talking to people about healthy relationships in later life. This was also part of the wider activity surrounding the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Pictured L to R: Carmel and a Women’s Aid supporter


3rd October 2016

Support Worker, Carmel Boston, begins work on the Choice Project.

We are delighted that Carmel Boston, the first of our two Support Workers has joined the Choice team.

Pic: Carmel Boston

Carmel will spend up to 18 months working with older people in Cardiff who are victims of abuse in their own home. A second Choice Support Worker will be appointed to work in Carmarthenshire in January 2017.

The Support Workers will discuss with victims the different courses of action open to them – including pursuing a case in the criminal courts, seeking redress in a civil court or adopting a restorative practice approach.

The Cardiff Support Worker will be based in the offices of Safer Wales, a charity which has been working with victims of domestic abuse for the past 20 years.

The Co-CEO of Safer Wales, Barbara Natasegara, said: “Elder abuse is something that is happening on a daily basis here in Wales, yet many older people are still unaware of how to find support, or that such help even exists. At Safer Wales, we work with the most vulnerable people in society every day, and elderly victims of abuse represent a worrying proportion of those people. 

“We are delighted to be working alongside the Choice project to develop a new approach to support for elderly victims of abuse and their families, and ultimately to work towards putting a stop to elder abuse altogether.”

The Choic project is also working closely with other organisations including Cardiff Social Services, Carmarthenshire Social Services, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Women’s Aid, Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police.

The link below is to the full press release on this story.


October 2nd 2016 – Cardiff half marathon

Written by Jeremy Newman – Choice project research coordinator.

Well, having decided in the spring of 2016 that I wanted to get fit again after 25 years of inactivity, I was then motivated by a tweet from Age Cymru urging people to run the Cardiff half marathon in October and raise money for them. As we have been working with them on the project, it seemed a perfect combination and cause for which to raise money.

My friends, family and colleagues were incredibly generous and I raised just over £850 in donations for Age Cymru – for which I am immensely grateful to them all.

In mid-April I started going circuit training a couple of times a week. Some running shoes were purchased and I took my first baby steps as a runner in the middle of May. I try and ‘do’ the 5k Aber Park Run on Saturday mornings, which is a great way to start the weekend. I steadily built up my running training throughout the summer and completed a couple of 10 mile runs in early and mid-September, and felt good going into the race on 2nd October.

Everyone I spoke to who had completed the Cardiff race before said what a fantastic occasion it was – and they were spot on. The weather was wonderful – clear and sunny, which did mean that at the water stations I tipped as much over my head as I drank. The atmosphere generated by the crowds was electric and they were so supportive to all the runners, not just people like me who were running for just about every charity you could imagine.

There were some entertaining runners on the course – various super heroes and a three-legged clown, which although he / they overtook me at one point, I managed to get past them before the finish!!

The sights on the course were excellent – particularly running out through Penarth marina and over the Cardiff Bay barrage. The hill at 12 miles was not so welcome though – short and steep, so I ran up part of it and then walked the last bit.

After you approach the finish line the support and noise is even greater, and once you cross the finish line there is plenty of help and support and I have never seen so many bananas stacked up in boxes waiting to be handed out!

I hoped to finish the race is under 2 hours 30 mins and was so pleased to do it in just over 2 hours and 25 minutes – incentive to go faster next time!

The facilities in the Runners Village were so well organised and it was great to meet some of the Age Cymru staff who were manning their tent. The post-run burger and drink went down very well.

Photographic evidence that I was really there!


16th September 2016

50+ Forum AGM – National Botanic Garden of Wales 

As a volunteer with the Choice Project I was invited to help Jeremy host a stand at the 50+ Forum AGM event on 16th September at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

We decorated the Choice stand with information and leaflets about the project, partner agencies and other organisations offering support to individuals experiencing abuse.

We asked visitors to the stand if they were happy to fill in a small questionnaire posing the two questions:

The thing/s I value most in close relationships as I get older is/are. 

If someone close to me was causing me harm or distress, who would I confide in?

Visitors to the stand were encouraged to fill in their responses to these questions in return for a dip into the large bowl of sweets, kept well stocked on the table. The response was overwhelming, with over 160 recorded visitors to the stand and 91 question slips filled in.

People were keen to know more about the project and the issues facing those experiencing domestic abuse in older age. Several people shared their experiences of supporting family members and friends experiencing abuse, whilst others were genuinely shocked at the scale of the issue.  The response to the project was extremely positive, with visitors enthusiastic about the person centred approach. 

I enjoyed the day, in particular meeting and talking to so many interesting people and hearing their stories of the challenges and the joys of ageing (and their fashion tips, but I will be keeping those to myself).   

Written by Elize Freeman.


September 1st, 2016

Senior Research Fellow and Co-Principal Investigator, Sarah Wydall joins Oliver Hides and Peter Johnson on BBC Radio Wales to discuss the  importance of ensuring high quality restorative justice practices in cases of elder abuse. The interview was a response to a report by MPs that recommended all victims of crime should have a legal right to restorative justice. For full radio programme visit:

Download Sarah Wydall joins Oliver Hides and Peter Johnson on BBC Radio Wales


Mid August 2016

Local papers in Carmarthenshire ran an article celebrating the, ‘golden years’, as Choice wanted to emphasise that it’s about time we celebrated the wisdom, experience and joy that comes with older age.

We asked for help from readers in gathering information to champion the cause of the older generation as the project looks at increasing choices for people in difficult family circumstances. We were looking for families with stories to tell who might share them with us.

Sarah Wydall was quoted, “Society tells us that younger is better. We at the Choice project reject this view. The golden years can be just as rewarding and exciting as the teenage years. We believe that with age comes wisdom, experience, joy and life skills, which should be celebrated. We promote a positive attitude towards ageing and highlight the contribution older people make to society and the value and fun they bring to their extended families. We at Dewis Choice want to learn more about older people, their families and communities.”

Professor Alan Clarke also commented, “As we move into older age we face many different transitions in life that can be both challenging and rewarding. These range from retirement, changes in physical and mental health, reduced availability of services and family support.”

Professor John Williams said, “It is recognised that families of all ages, experience good and bad times. Relationships are not always as positive or rewarding as everyone would wish and so few health and wellbeing campaigns focus on what people over the age of 60 value in their relationships with family members.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s executive board member for social care and health, Cllr Jane Tremlett said, “I am very pleased to support the valuable work the Dewis Choice project is carrying out across Carmarthenshire by helping older people and their families who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships.

“The project team are carrying out important research work that will lead to better provision for and a better understanding of the problems that can beset families with older members.

“Appreciating what makes for positive and healthy relationship within families as we grow older will help the project team with their work so I encourage people to contact them and share their experiences.” 

The link below takes you to the article that appeared in the on-line edition of the South Wales Guardian.


July 26th and August 9th

Dyfed-Powys Police briefing sessions

At four separate briefing sessions in Carmarthen and Llanelli, Sarah, Rebecca, John and Jeremy met and briefed nearly 30 officers and PCSO’s from the Carmarthenshire section of the force to brief them on Choice and answer any questions.

The sessions were very well attended, lively, informative and we hope useful, and would like to thank all who organised them and attended.

Below are Jeremy & John (in shirts & ties) with members of the Llanelli Neighbourhood Policing Team.


July 11th to 13th

Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron Secondary school – work placement experience

The Dept of Law & Criminology welcomed Heledd Haf Evans and Hannah Williams from year 10, on a three-day work placement in the department. The girls worked with the Choice project for two days and with law lecturer, Richard Ireland, for one day. 

Left to right - Sarah Wydall, Hannah Williams, Rebecca Zerk and Heledd Haf Evans.

Whilst working with Choice, the girls produced a very impressive summary of how the media represent older people generally and how elder abuse is reported, creating a 5-page document highlighting the key elements. 

They also started work on our ‘Tree of contacts’, as we want to create a visual representation of the many people we have been in contact with on the project. In a short space of time they created a very impressive tree on which we will build over the life of the project. 

Left to right - Heledd, the tree and Hannah

We are grateful to both Heledd and Hannah for their help this week and to Mrs Rhian Davies from the school for contacting us about the placement and making the arrangements.


July 11th 2016

Presentation to Llansteffan WI meeting

In Sept 2015 some of the members of the Llansteffan WI met Rebecca and Jeremy from the project at the 50+ Forum AGM held at the Botanical Gardens just outside Carmarthen. They were interested in the project and invited us to attend their meeting in July to present the project to a wider group of their members.

Jeremy attended the meeting held on Monday 11th and presented the outline of the project together with the main aims and objectives to approximately 25 members of the group. The presentation was well received and some thought provoking questions asked. There were also a number of interesting discussions with people after the presentation, who all saw the Choice project as valuable and worthwhile.

Jeremy was also very grateful for the warm reception he received, the cups of tea and chocolate biscuits offered (and consumed)!

Many thanks to Mrs Una Davies for the invite to attend and the Committee and members who attended on Monday. 



June 29th 2016

Cardiff Design group meet

The Design Group met for the first time at the end of June.

The volunteer group is comprised of members of the public and statutory agencies and initially discussed what they feel constitutes healthy relationships in later life. The group also discussed their views and thoughts on the wider topic of elder abuse and why it may be that older people experiencing abuse do not always seek help and assistance.

The group were also introduced to the principles of restorative approaches which will be followed up and explored in more details over the next few months.


Some members of the group at the meeting on June 29th

Many thanks to Susan Schelewa, Operational Manager, Adult Social Services, City of Cardiff for her help in arranging the use of one of the meeting rooms for this session.


June 16th 2016

On Thursday 16th June, Alan and Jeremy from the Choice project team, together with Jane Shaw, one of our volunteers, spent a very interesting and enjoyable couple of hours meeting some of the pupils and staff from the Rhyd y Gors school in Carmarthen.

The Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, (the Welsh language theatre of Wales) arranged the meeting, as they have been visiting the school on a regular basis for a number of months, exploring artistic avenues with a group of pupils.

The theatre has recently performed a play – Mrs Reynolds a’r cena bach – Mrs Reynolds and the ruffian, where Jay, a 17 year old boy vandalises Mrs Reynolds garden, and is forced to go back and spend time with Mrs Reynolds, working to restore the damage he has caused. The play explores the tensions that exist between them at the beginning, and how they develop a friendship as they get to know each other better.

The theatre were aware of the Choice project and the work we are doing working with older people and we felt it would be a good opportunity to meet some of the pupils who had seen the play and discuss their views on older people, their thoughts on the play and wider issues around younger and older people.

It was very informative and the pupils highlighted both positive and negative aspects of growing older, which the project team could well appreciate!

We also showed images of older people engaged in activities such as skateboarding, marathon running, gymnastics, cycling, exercising and working as a DJ. We also had images of young people doing exactly the same activities to highlight the fact that young and old can both enjoy doing the same things.

Our thanks to the theatre and the school for arranging the visit.


May 4th 2016

Aberystwyth University Law and Criminology academic wins award for feminist scholarship

Sarah Wydall from the Department of Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth University is one of three female scholars to receive one of the first Audrey Jones Memorial Awards for Feminist Scholarship.

The new annual research awards are presented in memory of Audrey Jones, a Welsh woman who campaigned for women’s rights across the world.


Picture - Audrey Jones


Sarah Wydall, who works at the University’s Centre for the Study of Ageing, Abuse and Neglect, was presented with the award for her work on ‘Choice’, a Big Lottery project focusing on justice and elder abuse. The three and a half-year long project which runs until 2018 is working in partnership with national charities such as Age Cymru, Hafan Cymru and Welsh Women’s Aid.

The Audrey Jones Memorial Awards for Feminist Scholarship were presented by Welsh Government Finance Minister Jane Hutt at the annual Wales Assembly of Women conference held at Cardiff University on Saturday 30 April 2016.

On being presented with the award Sarah said: “I am delighted to have been awarded this Memorial Prize. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my research to the Wales Assembly of Women Annual Conference. Audrey Jones was an inspirational woman and it is a great honour to be one of the first to receive the award.”

In presenting the awards Jane Hutt, a long-standing member of Wales Assembly of Women, said: “Audrey Jones fought tirelessly for women’s rights and would have been delighted with the purposeful scholarship demonstrated here today in her memory.”

Audrey Jones represented Wales on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and contributed to UN consultations and debates on women’s rights across the world. She died in 2014 aged 84. Up until she retired in 1990 she was deputy head of St Cyres Comprehensive School in Penarth, where she had taught since 1960.

Jane Hutt also requested copies of the research to be sent to her so as she could share them with Welsh Government.

Wales Assembly of Women chair Dr Jackie Jones said: “We are delighted that Jane Hutt wants to share the work of the recipients of our new awards with Welsh Government. It is our hope that these new awards will provide an opportunity for women to raise important issues that may eventually inform and underpin future policy in Wales.”

Wales Assembly of Women conference organiser Dr Jane Salisbury said: “Audrey was always interested to hear about the research of my students. She was incredibly frustrated that far too many research findings remain in dissertations and theses where only a privileged few have access to them. We are delighted to have provided a new platform for female scholars to share their work and ideas.”

The 2016 Audrey Jones Memorial Awards for Feminist Scholarship were presented to: 

  • Undertaking transformative research with victim-survivors of elder abuse: A story of feminist praxis in Wales.
    The Dewis/Choice Project. Sarah Wydall, Aberystwyth University.

  • Breakfast and Brains: Implications for girls in Wales. Hannah Littlecott, Cardiff University.

  • Class, Motherhood and Mature Studentship - (Re)Constructing and (Re)negotiating Subjectivity. Melanie Morgan, Cardiff University.


Photo: L to R: The three award winners

Hannah Littlecott, Sarah Wydall and Melanie Morgan, with Welsh Government Finance Minister Jane Hutt


Please follow this link to download the presentation Sarah gave at the awards ceremony in Cardiff.

Sarah Wydall Audrey Jones award presentation


About the Wales Assembly of Women

The Wales Assembly of Women is an independent organisation for women in Wales. It is an NGO accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Its representatives have attended every major U.N. world conference for women since Nairobi in 1985. Membership is open to all women in Wales and to women living elsewhere who have connections with Wales. It is a campaigning organisation for women’s rights and receives no public money. It is funded by the membership and charity grants.


Is violent crime increasing?

A lecture by Professor Sylvia Walby

In early April, the Choice Team went to London to attend the Eve Saville lecture by Professor Sylvia Walby, organised by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. Professor Walby's colleagues, Professor Brian Francis and Dr Jude Towers, also attended the lecture. Research lead, Sarah Wydall provides an outline of the lecture.

What was discussed?
The Government and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) say violent crime is decreasing. However, using the data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) produced by the ONS, Prof. Walby demonstrated that since 2009 violent crime (excluding murder, but including rape), is on the increase in England and Wales. The data showed that violence against the person is gendered and women are predominantly the victims.

Professor Walby used the raw data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales rather than the published data. The CSEW survey is the largest victimisation study in the UK based on 30,000-40,000 respondents. The methodology used by Walby to interrogate the data showed that whilst the number of victims has not changed, the number of violent incidences against the victim has gone up by 70%.

How did Prof Walby do this?
The ONS who developed the CSEW, only counts up to five incidences of violence against one victim per year, irrespective of whether a victim has experienced far more than five incidences of violence against them. This process of only counting a certain number of ‘repeats’ is known as capping
Prof. Walby and her colleagues reject the justification of capping.

The ONS justified capping initially by stating:
- There was only a very small number of repeat victimisation (ONS 2013)
- Prof. Walby examined the ONS data from 1994-2014, highlighting the importance of accuracy.

Prof. Walby argues that repeat victimisation which is experienced by 3.5-6.6% of respondents is not small, given the CSEW sample size of between 30, 000 and 40, 000 respondents. The capping process masks the impact of repeat victimisation of a significant number of people.

By removing the cap from the CSEW data, Prof Walby demonstrated that violence against the person which involved repeat victimisation involving family members is on the increase.

The effects of removing the cap:
- The total amount of violent crime goes up by 60%, perpetrated by a stranger (20%); by a domestic relation (70%); by an acquaintance (100%)
- Violence against women, uncapped (70%); Violence against men, uncapped (50%)

Prof. Walby points out that violence crime increased from 2009 in line with the economic crisis. It is important to note that the frequency of crimes against the victim increases not the number of victims. The findings challenge the traditional assumptions of: one crime, one victim, and one perpetrator. Prof. Walby suggests that there is a need to mainstream repeat victimisation which involves family members and acquaintances where the crime is gendered and women are predominantly the victims.

NOTE- The ONS is currently revising the capping methodology as the process distorts the true measure of recorded violence against the person.
Interested in learning more?

Professor Walby based her lecture on an article she co-authored with Professor Francis and Dr Towers in the British Journal of Criminology.

The article can be downloaded for free via this link:

A transcript of Professor Walby's speech will be available in due course. We will place it on our website when it available.


8th March 2016

On International Women’s Day – The Choice Team are invited to the launch of the Sussex Elders’ Commission report at the Houses of Westminster

Katy Bourne, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Sussex had read about our Choice project in a recent addition of ‘Prom’, the Aber Alumni magazine. Katy Bourne was so impressed by the initiative and our research that she contacted the team and invited them to the launch of the Sussex Elders’ Commissioners report in Parliament.

Prof Alan Clarke and Sarah Wydall took the trip to London to hear about the valuable work carried out by the Elders’ Commission. A copy of the report can be found here

The Choice team are currently liaising with PCC Katy Bourne to explore joint working opportunities.

Sarah Wydall, Senior Research Fellow commented, ‘Alan and I were enormously impressed by the important work undertaken by the Elders’ Commission members in supporting their communities, I really enjoyed talking to them about their report and sharing our experiences of our volunteer work in Wales when engaging with local communities ’.     

Sarah Wydall at the launch of the report.


December 10th 2015

Sarah Rochira, the Older People's Commissioner for Wales, highlighting the fact that there are more than 30,000 people aged over 60 in Wales who are victims of domestic abuse, and refers to the really good research being carried out in this field, with Aberystwyth University just starting to look at how we can provide better family support (for victims and their families).

The link to the BBC Wales news article is below:


10th November

Jill Manthorpe blog

Jill Manthorpe is Professor of Social Work at King's College London and Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit.

She recently blogged about a paper that John Willams, Alan Clarke and Sarah Wydall published:

Clarke, A., Williams, J. and Wydall, S. (2015) Access to Justice for Victims/Survivors of Elder Abuse: A Qualitative Study. Social Policy and Society, available on CJO2015. doi:10.1017/S1474746415000202

A link to the blog is below, together with a PDF version of the blog which you can download.

Jill Manthorpe blog posted Nov 10th about the findings from the 'Access to Justice' evaluation carried out by John Williams, Alan Clarke & Sarah Wydall, Dept of Law & Criminology, Aberystwyth University.


October 22nd

Carmarthen Conference

Building Justice Options with Older People in Wales

The project held a very successful launch conference in Carmarthen on Thursday Oct 22nd 2015, attended by over 80 people.

The morning session was a series of interesting and enlightening presentations from the people shown below, together with the title of their presentation. Below the title is a link so that you can download the presentation slides or speech.

We hope to include all the presentations soon, so please check back again in the future.

There was a question and answer session following the presentations, at which all those who presented, together with Professor Alan Clarke, co-investigator on the Choice project, answered questions from delegates.

In the afternoon the delegates broke into 6 working groups, with each group discussing one of these three topics:

  • Intergenerational  relationships
  • Solutions to elder abuse in the home
  • Restorative approaches

Each group then fed back to the main conference the key themes, issues and possible solutions discussed. This provided the project with some extremely illuminating and helpful feedback.

The afternoon was completed with a final presentation by:

International Women’s Day event

The IWD event on March 15th, in City Hall, Cardiff was organised by Women Connect First.

The project had a stand at the event this year, and it was a great success. Both Carmel and Elize were there, and they spoke to many people about the project and how we are looking to hold discussion groups in Cardiff looking at various aspects of ageing and healthy relationships.

The event broke new records with an outstanding number of 38 stall holders and over 400 guests, including women, men and children from the wider community, including not only Cardiff but Newport as well.

Both Lord Mayor Cllr Monica Walsh and Leader of the House and Chief Whip Jane Hutt AM took time out of their busy programmes and attended the event.





The Choice table and banners just before the event opened.