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Organisations urged to sign countywide pledge to help victims of domestic abuse

Organisations across Norfolk are being asked to sign up to a new countywide campaign to help victims of domestic abuse.

The Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Group in Norfolk (DASVG), which involves councils, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN), police and health organisations, is launching the HEAR campaign for White Ribbon Day on 25 November 2020 and the 16 Days Against Domestic Abuse that follow.

The campaign asks organisations to pledge their support and make simple changes to policy which will help any employees who might be suffering domestic abuse.

Companies and employers have an important role to play in helping to prevent domestic abuse where it impacts on the workplace – and when a victim’s work, productivity and safety are affected – whether working at home or in the office. 

Hear Pledge poster

Gavin Thompson Chair of the DASVG and Director of Policy, Commissioning and Communications at the OPCCN, said: “White Ribbon Day is a crucial way of raising awareness of domestic abuse while helping victims and survivors know where to find support.

"However, we must work together to prevent abuse and make sure our communities and homes are safe for everyone 365 days of the year.

“With more people having to work from home due to the pandemic, it is incumbent upon us as employers to ensure those at risk of abuse know they will be heard and help is out there.

"I would encourage organisations, no matter how large or small, to sign up to the HEAR pledge, together we can all help make a difference by saying #NoToDomesticAbuse.”

HEAR stands for Help, Educate, Awareness and Respond, with organisations being asked to pledge to:

  • Help

Every employer has a duty to provide access to organisations who can help employees: We will ensure colleagues affected by domestic abuse are given access to the right specialist support.

  • Educate

Every employer should ensure the right training is provided: We will make sure the right training is provided to staff to know what steps to take to support colleagues.

  • Awareness

Every employer has a responsibility to be aware of domestic abuse: We will not tolerate domestic abuse in any form and will provide a supportive workplace for colleagues who experience such abuse.

  • Respond

Every employer should ensure the right policies are in place to respond to domestic abuse: We will review our policies and processes and ensure they are implemented correctly.

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, said: "I am truly proud of the work my office has done over the past few months to ensure victims and survivors of domestic abuse continue to be given a voice through such unsettling times.

 "My committment to supporting victims and reducing vulnerability still stands and remains a key priority.

"However, such work is not something we can do alone and it is vital partners across the county join forces to tackle domestic abuse.

"I wholly welcome such a campaign and hope, as my office has done, as many organisations as possible lend their support by signing the pledge."  

Norwich City Football Club is one of the first organisations to have signed up to the campaign.

Zoe Ward, Norwich City Football Club’s Business and Project Director, said: “Domestic abuse is occurring every day in our community and the pandemic means that victims are having an even harder time accessing the support they need.

“Employers have a responsibility to create a safe and supportive environment and, by committing to educate and raise awareness amongst our colleagues, we can play our part in tackling domestic abuse together."

Mandy Proctor, Chief Executive of the domestic violence and abuse services charity Leeway, added: “This is a very important campaign, raising awareness of domestic abuse and encouraging organisations to take an active role in tackling it. We all have a part to play to stop domestic abuse and to break the silence that so often surrounds it.

“By signing up to the pledge, employers will ensure the wellbeing of their staff, helping them to access support at an earlier stage as well as highlighting their commitment to tackling domestic abuse.” 

Sign up to the HEAR campaign

In England and Wales, Hestia, providers of refuges for victims of domestic abuse, estimate a cost to employers of £14m per year due to reduced productivity and lost output due to time off work.

During the pandemic in Norfolk, and particularly during lockdown, victims/survivors of domestic abuse are more likely to be vulnerable. At the moment, some vulnerable children and adults may be particularly isolated, meaning the family, community and professional networks they usually rely on may be unavailable or harder to access.

At the same time, any restrictions in place may increase the pressures that can contribute to abuse. This inevitably impacts on work and colleagues as well as the victims themselves.

On signing the pledge, a campaign toolkit is available for employers to download with information on help and support for staff, guidance on drafting policy about domestic abuse, internal communications and a campaign poster.