Workplace pledge to help employees affected by domestic abuse could help thousands
A workplace pledge to help employees affected by domestic abuse has marked its third-year anniversary with nearly 100 sign-ups from organisations across Norfolk.
The HEAR Pledge was launched three years ago on 25 November 2020 to mark national White Ribbon Day in a bid to encourage employers to ensure the right policies and procedures are in place to provide vital help and support to employees.
Since this date 99 organisations – large and small – have taken the pledge, representing some 49,189 workers in Norfolk.
White Ribbon Day takes place on the 25 November each year and is also the start of 16 days of Action to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls. This year the charity, White Ribbon, has urged individuals and organisations to make consistent choices and actions to #ChangeTheStory for women and girls, so that they may live their lives free from the fear of violence.
The HEAR campaign is a local response to such a call – but with a focus on the role employers can play.
One of the first Norfolk employers to sign up to HEAR in 2020 was Norwich City Football Club which had 250 employees.
Encouraging other organisations to follow suit, Zoe Ward the Club’s Executive Director, said: “Norwich City are pleased to continue to support the HEAR campaign and we remain committed to helping colleagues who may be suffering domestic abuse.
“Workplaces can be regarded as safe spaces for people who may be going through domestic abuse. They are places where people may feel more comfortable speaking out, away from behind closed doors and not within listening distance of an abusive partner or family member.
“White Ribbon Day 2023 gives us all a reminder to challenge seemingly harmless behaviours which may result in male violence against women and girls."
As well as Norwich City, supermarkets, bakers, security firms, recruitment companies, local sports clubs and event organisers are among those to have signed.
Other bigger organisations to have shown support include Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Police, Norwich City Council, the James Paget and Queen Elizabeth hospitals, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN).
A number of schools, primary and high, from across the county have also signed the pledge to ensure support is available for staff.
Mandy Proctor, Chief Executive of the domestic abuse charity Leeway, which also signed in 2020, said: “We are proud to support the HEAR Campaign and it has been fantastic to see the progress that it has made over the past three years.
“It’s encouraging that such a wide range of organisations across the county have signed up, helping to raise awareness of domestic abuse to thousands of people and provide support for their employees that may need it.
“I hope that more organisations across the county continue to sign-up to the campaign, demonstrating their commitment to supporting the well-being of their staff and helping to break down barriers to support for those experiencing domestic abuse.”
The HEAR Pledge was originally launched by the county’s *Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Group (DASVG) and has won national backing from the country’s Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs.
Three years on the Pledge is very much ongoing with employers across the county still being encouraged to follow suit and make that key pledge to help victims of such abuse.
Detective Superintendent Stacey Murray Co-Chair of the DASVG, said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to those employers who have signed the pledge and shown their commitment to helping those affected by domestic abuse.
“It is really positive to know nearly 50,000 employees now have access to the right specialist support they need and deserve thanks to those employers who have pledged to make a difference.
“Three years on we are still keen to ensure the campaign grows from strength to strength and helps those who need it the most.”
HEAR stands for Help, Educate, Awareness and Respond, with organisations being asked to pledge to:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After signing the Pledge some employers have developed new policies and employee handbooks, held awareness raising programmes or organised specialist training for staff.
*The DASVG is made up of councils, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN), police and health organisations – all with a strategic aim to address domestic abuse and sexual violence in Norfolk. It supports the delivery of Norfolk Community Safety Partnership (NCSP) objectives.