We are supporting The 16 Days of Action, which takes place globally from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
The campaign – which is spearheaded locally by The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence – aims to raise awareness and ultimately end violence against women and girls.
During the campaign we will show our support by organising and taking part in the following :
- Collecting items for essential packs – in partnership with West Mercia Women’s Aid - for women in refuges including toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sanitary products, shower gel and towels; these can be donated both internally and externally with drop off points at our Warndon and Malvern offices;
- Fundraising in the form of a dress down day on Friday 7 December .
We currently support customers who are victims of domestic abuse by listening, providing advice, signposting to other specialist agencies, organising safety checks in homes to ensure survivors feel safe as well as liaising with partner agencies and dealing directly with perpetrators.
Importantly, 2019 will see us becoming accredited within best practice guidelines as set out by the government backed Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, a national body that aims to improve the housing sector’s response to domestic abuse. Having established the first accreditation for housing providers, as a member of DAHA, we will aim to always deal with victims of domestic abuse in a fair, patient and consistent manner. It will also show its commitment to the issue as well as providing ongoing employee training.
Catherine Cole, our Assistant Director Communities and Neighbourhoods (West) said : “As a social landlord we have a commitment and determination to help and support our customers. This includes recognising and dealing with reports of domestic abuse. Supporting campaigns like this is critical to our work.”
Kerry Wentzel, our Domestic Abuse Champion said : “Although domestic abuse budgets have been cut up and down the country, our message remains the same : our dedicated team is here to take your calls and offer support and help to all those suffering from domestic abuse.”
We had 110 referrals for domestic abuse in 2017/2018. This year, the referrals are likely to nearly double with figures up until October at 113 reports of domestic abuse.
The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence co-ordinates and supports the campaign and has had some excellent results. During the last year calls to the domestic abuse helpline received 10,862 calls; in addition the police recorded 10,949 domestic abuse crimes and incidents in Worcestershire, confirming victims trust and confidence in doing so.
Statistics surrounding domestic abuse in the UK make for sobering reading :
- 1 in 4 women will experience some form of domestic abuse within their lives;
- A staggering 2 women a week are killed by their partner or former partner;
- 1 in 4 LGBT relationships is abusive;
- The average victim will suffer more than 50 incidents before reporting;
- Worryingly, the number one barrier preventing women from leaving abusive situations is housing.
Martin Lakeman, from Public Health and the Strategic Co-ordinator at The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence said : “ We are heartened by the commitment and dedication of organisations such as Fortis Living and are delighted that they are supporting the campaign. Highlighting the very real danger of domestic abuse is a vital element in tackling the issue. Many women find it extremely difficult to leave abusive relationships; there is so much support out there for them and their children and as we embark on the 2018 16 Days of Action campaign, we urge them not to suffer in silence. If you need help and support call 0800 980 3331.”
We are part of The Drive Partnership which is made up of Respect, SafeLives and Social Finance. It challenges perpetrators of domestic abuse aiming to fundamentally change perpetrator behaviour to make victims and families safe.
The 16 Days of Action – which is symbolised by a white ribbon - first began at The Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and has gone from strength to strength; since this time, more than 5000 groups in 187 countries have contributed to promoting and supporting the campaign. Large organisations such as the world-renowned Amnesty International and World Health Organisation support and celebrate the 16 Days as well as far more local, grassroots projects.
Worcestershire was awarded White Ribbon status as a county three years ago, a significant achievement. This year The Forum continues to support the White Ribbon campaign and is encouraging professionals and the public to pledge their support by visiting www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/worcestershire. Pledging is a powerful statement to all those that are suffering in silence. Worcestershire currently makes up 28 per cent of all national pledges, a significant achievement.