It has been well publicised that the coronavirus lockdown, whether in full or part of the tiered approach, has seen more incidences of domestic abuse.
Across the UK, helplines have reported significant increases in calls and support agencies reported vast increases in referrals for their services. At Stonewater, we saw a 131% increase in cases recorded in Q1 of this year compared to cases recorded for the whole of the previous year.
Like many organisations, we have faced some challenges in providing Refuge and Specialist Support Services, as well as services to our wider customer base during the first lockdown. We had to reimagine how we could provide our services, apply technology so we could reset and reconnect with our customers albeit in a different way. We were proud to receive the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation in August of this year, as this marks the beginning of our journey to continue to ensure our customers are able to safely access all of our services. In addition, my role as Customer Experience Manager was created to lead on our response to domestic abuse during the lockdown and into the future.
I am part of the National Housing Federation’s Domestic Abuse Core Group. The purpose of the group is to raise awareness of the issue of domestic abuse at a strategic level and encourage housing providers to work together to improve their response. We want to see a consistently high standard of response to incidences of domestic abuse across the social housing sector. Our aim is to raise the profile of the role housing providers can and must play, share best practice, develop and maintain partnerships outside of the housing sector and join together to work local and nationally.
DAHA with the support of the NHF have successfully launched the first round of Regional Domestic Abuse Groups across the country, and I have the pleasure of chairing the South East group. These regional groups will bring together housing providers, local authorities and specialist Domestic Abuse Support Services to work collectively to embed an effective regional and local response to Domestic Abuse. You can find details of future meetings on the DAHA Website.
Members of the NHF Domestic Abuse Core group consist of the chairs of the Regional Domestic Abuse Groups as well as a representative from DAHA. This enables regions to have their say on the group’s activities and priorities. We currently have plans to hold a webinar in December, which will explore what housing providers have learnt during lockdown and how they can prepare for the festive season.
As we are in the midst of another full lockdown, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are ready and equipped to respond to another increase in demand for our services, but also remember to be kind to yourself as well as others.
Find out more on this topics and how you can build partnerships and keep neighbourhoods safe during this difficult time.