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Workplace pledge to help those affected by domestic abuse could help thousands across Norfolk

Tens of thousands of employees who may be affected by domestic abuse are getting access to vital help and support thanks to a pledge signed by workplaces across Norfolk.

The HEAR Pledge was launched two years ago on 25 November 2020 to mark national White Ribbon Day in a bid to encourage employees to ensure the right policies and procedures are in place to help those who may be affected by such abuse.

Since this time some 87 organisations – large and small – have taken the pledge, representing some 47,696 workers in Norfolk.

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.

Supermarkets, bakers, security firms, recruitment companies, sports clubs and event organisers are among those to have signed alongside bigger public and private sector organisations including Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Police, Norwich City Council, the James Paget and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals, Norwich City Football Club 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.

To mark the second anniversary of the HEAR campaign, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust has also signed the pledge in support of breaking the silence around domestic abuse.

Angela Johnson, Named Nurse Safeguarding Children, said: "With 11,570 employees we feel it is extremely important that we provide access to the right support to both our employees as well as our patient groups.

"We are committed to recognising and responding to domestic abuse whilst providing a safe environment to do so."

As part of their commitment the Trust will also be displaying posters around the hospital to ensure support is more accessible to both patients and staff.

Saranna Burgess, Director for Nursing at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, which also signed up this year, added: “We signed up to HEAR to support our brilliant staff who might need to speak up in a safe place to someone who will really listen to what they are saying when things are tough in our relationships.

“During the pandemic many of us were working from home and our safe space at work had gone, our teammates and friends isolated from us, this initiative reminds and encourages us all to look out for each other and know that even by just listening we can HEAR the true voice of a person and that this act even on its own helps.”

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.

Two-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.

*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.

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.

Gavin Thompson Co-Chair of the DASVG and Director of Policy Commissioning and Communications at the OPCCN, 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 more than 47,000 employees now have access to the right specialist support they need and deserve thanks to those employers who have pledged to make a difference.

“Two years on we are still keen to ensure the campaign grows from strength to strength and helps those who need it the most.

“We must all work together to prevent abuse and make sure our communities and homes are safe for everyone 365 days of the year.

“With companies and employers having an important role to play in helping to prevent domestic abuse where it impacts on the workplace – whether someone is working at home or in the office – it is crucial HEAR continues every day of the year.”

After signing the Pledge some employers have developed new policies and employee handbooks, held awareness raising programmes or organised specialist training for staff.

Sign the HEAR Pledge here >>

*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 County Community Safety Partnership (NCCSP) objectives.

How to seek help

Your Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) works with a number of organisations across the county to ensure specialist support is available for those affected by domestic and sexual abuse.

If you know someone who is the victim of domestic or sexual abuse, we encourage you to seek help.

The police will always respond to emergency calls - if you are in immediate danger, always call 999. Police 101 is the non-emergency number.

More information on specialist support services can be found on our website here >>