Millions of people experience domestic abuse every year. In July this year, Hightown Housing Association joined the Make a Stand pledge, along with 141 other housing organisations, to support victims of abuse and prevent abuse from taking place.
The Make a Stand Campaign has been developed by the Chartered Institute of Housing in partnership with the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) and Women's Aid.
The pledge gives housing organisations the opportunity to create 4 commitments to provide support for people experiencing domestic abuse. These commitments then need to be in place and functional by September 2019.
- Put in place and embed a policy to support residents who are affected by domestic abuse. Hightown has specific policies and procedures which outline the approach to managing domestic abuse cases. Domestic abuse is often brought to Hightown’s attention through reports of anti-social behaviour. The anti-social behaviour procedure makes it clear that such cases should be managed through the domestic abuse procedure in the first instance in order to minimise potential risk to the victim. Hightown also runs the Dacorum Safe Haven, with funding from Dacorum Borough Council, to provide safe accommodation for victims of domestic abuse. Staff in other Care and Supported Housing services are trained in safeguarding, which can help staff to respond to domestic abuse cases.
- Make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available on your website and in other appropriate places so that they are easily accessible for residents and staff. Staff have received training on domestic abuse awareness. Housing Officers can provide residents with information, support and signposting for those experiencing domestic abuse. Information is also available in the Hightown House reception.
- Put in place a HR policy or amend an existing policy, to support members of staff who may be experiencing domestic abuse. The Head of Housing has worked with the Community Safety Manager from Bucks County Council and Hightown’s Learning and Development team to develop an e-learning module for managers which raises awareness of domestic abuse, giving guidance on how to identify the signs and handle disclosures from staff members.
- Appoint a champion at a senior level in your organisation to own the activity you are doing to support people experiencing domestic abuse. The Head of Housing at Hightown is the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Strategic Lead and a trained Domestic Abuse Champion for the Buckinghamshire Domestic Abuse Champions network. The aim of the network is to raise awareness of domestic abuse; ensuring early intervention and signposting to appropriate local support services. The Champion’s role is to be the DVA contact for the organisation and to maintain an awareness of local sources of support. Hightown also has a Housing Officer leading on Domestic Abuse awareness to ensure a proactive and consistent approach to domestic abuse cases identified in general needs tenancies.