Tackling domestic abuse is a key issue affecting housing providers across the sector

Do you know how many cases of domestic abuse you have across your properties? If you think your organisation is not doing as much as it could in tackling and responding to domestic abuse I urge you to take action.

Gudrun Burnet is Senior Business Partner at Peabody and co-founder of the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA)

Gudrun Burnet is Senior Business Partner at Peabody and co-founder of the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA)

13 February 2017

Women’s Aid report that one in four women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, and two women are killed each week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. And it’s not just an issue that affects women, with one in six men experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime. But when I started working at Peabody in 2009, we recorded just four cases of domestic abuse in our properties. Peabody is one of London’s largest housing providers with properties across 27 boroughs, so we were obviously under reporting.

We knew we had to do something to address the issue of under reporting and prioritised identifying and dealing with cases of domestic abuse. I’ve delivered workshops and training on domestic abuse to colleagues across Peabody including neighbourhood managers, caretakers, contractors, community development workers and senior management who are now able to identify signs and risk factors and report back to our specialist Community Safety Team, despite not being domestic abuse experts.

We are now much more accurately recording instances of domestic abuse across our estate, with an increase of 1,425% in reporting of domestic abuse to our Community Safety Team over the last eight years. Domestic abuse accounts for 25% of caseload in our Community Safety Team on average.

In 2015-16, 90% of residents reporting domestic abuse said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with our handling of their cases (up from 73% in 2014-15) and Peabody is now seen as a model of best practice in the UK and co-founded the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA)

I’m passionate about expanding the work we have been doing to improve the housing sector response to domestic abuse. As well as training Peabody staff, I’ve delivered training at over 50 other housing providers worldwide. Last year I was lucky enough to travel to the USA, Australia and Canada on a Winston Churchill Fellowship to learn about global practice. I learnt that sadly, domestic abuse is a global epidemic, but housing providers can play a vital role in safeguarding families affected by domestic abuse if given the right advice and training.

Do you know how many cases of domestic abuse you have across your properties? If you think your organisation is not doing as much as it could in tackling and responding to domestic abuse I urge you to take action and ensure your staff are appropriately trained.

I was also fortunate enough to speak at City Hall for the launch of the new Pan London Housing Reciprocal Agreement last week. The event was hosted by two deputy Mayors and co-ordinated by Safer London. The Agreement is a voluntary collaboration between local authorities and registered housing providers in London, which aims to prevent homelessness in cases of domestic abuse, violence against women and girls; hate crimes; those at risk of gangs and other high risk community safety reasons. The Agreement achieves this by increasing housing options for people with a social housing tenancy in London, who are at high risk of harm and need to move to a safe area of London. In doing so, the reciprocal supports individuals and families to avoid homelessness, makes better use of housing stock, and ensures that those at risk do not lose their tenure. Please, please sign up. Or for more information, get in touch.

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