Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance Launched
Published by LauraMcKinlay for Gentoo Group in Care and Support and also in Communities, Education, Health, Housing
DAHA members at the London launch event
A new alliance to tackle domestic abuse was launched this week with events in both London and the North East.
The alliance is led by Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, housing association Peabody and social business Gentoo Group, who have a longstanding commitment to tackling domestic abuse and sharing best practice. More than a million women are subjected to abuse in the home every year, and as such the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) has developed accreditation to help improve the housing sector’s response to domestic abuse.
Over five million people live in affordable housing in England and Wales, and the new housing-centred approach has been welcomed by Government. Abuse happens in the home, so the housing sector is well placed to help stop it. Housing organisations have a key role in tackling domestic abuse as they and their contractors have unique entry to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse. They are often in residents’ homes and neighbourhoods, and when properly trained are ideally placed to spot and respond to it.
This accreditation brings together best practice and examines key elements of service delivery. It is an assessment tool enabling organisations to analyse and assess existing practice and implement an improvement plan.
Carl Sargeant, The Minister for Housing and Regeneration (National Assembly for Wales) guest speaker at the London launch, said: "The Welsh Government is committed to tackling domestic abuse and we are working with housing providers to ensure that vulnerable people get the best possible support as early as possible. There is a lot of very positive work already evident on this front in Wales and I recently announced that all social housing providers in Wales now have domestic abuse policies in place for staff and tenants - a considerable step in the right direction.
"However, it's vital that we don't stand still and that we, as a sector, continue to work together to ensure best practice across the board when tackling these heinous crimes, wherever they are committed. The standards launched by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance will help to ensure a focussed approach from housing providers when tackling domestic abuse. It is something that I and my officials will follow up to ensure progress is made in Wales."
Guest speaker at the North East launch at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland Professor Nicole Westmarland, Co-Director, Durham Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) added: “I wholeheartedly support them in their quest to improve standards amongst housing providers. Feeling safe in your own home is something many victims of domestic violence are not able to take for granted. Society as a whole, whether you're a neighbour, family member, police officer, housing provider, or joiner fixing a broken door, should have their eyes open to the possibility of domestic violence and not look the other way.”
John Bentham, Homelessness and Domestic Abuse Policy Lead, Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said: “Domestic abuse is an insidious crime. Housing professionals can play a vital role in identifying and tackling it yet too often their role is overlooked and under-appreciated. The launch of DAHA which brings together the expertise of Gentoo, Standing Together and Peabody is a most welcome step forward. Supporting others to ensure a consistent and coordinated response will no doubt help keep victims safe. I hope more and more housing organisations adopt DAHAs best practice, recognise the impact domestic abuse has on our communities and understand what action they can take.”
Gudrun Burnet, Senior Business Partner at Peabody said “Housing staff can be the friendly, familiar face offering the first step of support towards safety for people experiencing domestic abuse. We know we can help. Through training, education and our partnership approach we can identify abuse much earlier, preventing the situation from spiralling out of control. Working with government, we’ll develop and implement national standards to help save lives.”
Kelly Henderson, Business Manager (Domestic Abuse) Gentoo said: “We have a long-standing commitment to tackling domestic abuse. We know we can’t do it on our own, but we do know our approach works. The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance will make a huge difference to those people we identify and support. With two women still being murdered by a partner or former partner every week, our focus is to standardise processes across the UK, ensuring we make a positive impact on the way people live their life.”
Nicole Jacobs, Chief Executive, Standing Together said: “Standing Together was founded on the premise that no single agency acting alone can deal effectively with a crime as prevalent, complex, costly and damaging as domestic abuse. Having coordinated a housing operational group in London over the past five years we have seen how housing providers a key role in a co-ordinated, multi-agency community response to domestic abuse and we are thrilled to be working in partnership with Gentoo and Peabody to improve the housing sector’s response to this issue. We look forward to working with many other housing providers who are committed to making a difference and keeping women and children safe from domestic abuse.”