Sound Delivery Media – Chantal Hughes, CEO: ‘What I learnt working with a Production Company on Ian Wright: Home Truths’ – 7 June 2021

Chantal Hughes is the Chief Executive of Hampton Trust who deliver frontline services tackling root causes of domestic abuse with specialist early intervention and rehabilitative programmes for adult offenders and young people in a range of settings. In this guest blog she shares her experience of working with a production company to contribute to the documentary Ian Wright:Home Truths, giving her advice to other charities.

Domestic abuse is a pernicious and complex crime. Individuals can experience abuse for years before seeking help.  Perpetrators use tactics to remain under the radar, their abusive behaviour existing behind closed doors.  Frontline services such as Hampton Trust are left to decode the secrets.  It perhaps comes as no surprise that such a context does not lend itself to media requests.

Hampton Trust has been delivering frontline services for the last 25 years. Established in 1996, our key aims were to prevent young people entering the criminal justice system as well as to provide rehabilitative programmes to prevent reoffending. With a gap in provision for adult domestic abuse perpetrators, we researched national and international approaches, delivering specialist perpetrator interventions.  Gaining national awards, we have continued to identify gaps and to design and test a range of specialist early intervention and rehabilitative programmes for female offenders, adult offenders and young people in a range of settings.

Over many years working for Hampton Trust, I receive regular enquiries from well-intentioned filmmakers, but for reasons I’ve outlined it’s complicated.  They invariably want to film perpetrators talking about their abusive behaviour.  This storytelling process brings into sharp focus the nuances of domestic abuse. Is there a reason that people behave in this way and can they change?

Producer Charlene Osuagwu and Director Dan Dewsbury from Brooke Lapping Productions Limited, contacted me last July with details about a documentary they were filming with Ian Wright.  It involved Ian sharing his experience of being a child victim of domestic abuse and how it has impacted on his life.  Charlene and Dan were keen to include what is being done to tackle domestic abuse and how organisations are working directly with perpetrators.  They wanted to film our work and individuals in our service who would be willing to be involved.

I shared the request with my colleagues and got the usual eye roll.  That’s the subtext for ‘it won’t happen as no one will want to be filmed’.  Delivering services remotely, in response to the pandemic was also a consideration.  The team were receptive to a socially distanced meeting with Charlene and Dan convened in an oversized hotel conference room.  Perhaps they were simply keen to trade zoom for a ‘real life’ meeting.

A cautious person by nature, my warning flags go into overdrive with documentary makers wanting to film people in our service.  I’m nervous of how it will be edited, how it will impact on those whose lives we actively seek to improve, what spin they will put on things and how will the organisation be positioned.

Charlene and Dan were genuinely interested and curious to learn about our work.  They were reflective, considered and honest, clearly mindful of the challenges for those in our service and the organisation in general.  Politically, the Domestic Abuse Bill was passing through various committee stages, within the House of Lords and Hampton Trust was part of a Call to Action with 80 other organisations calling on Ministers to ensure the Bill included the importance of a National Perpetrator Strategy.  I have worked in the sector for over two decades and perpetrator work has remained controversial for most of my career.  Together Charlene, Dan and I discussed how we might work together and raise awareness of the importance of our work.

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