Homelessness charity Oasis Community Housing is joining White Ribbon UK and thousands of other indviduals and organisations in raising awareness of domestic abuse and violence, in a bid to prevent it before it starts, as today (25 November) commences 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Oasis Community has a long history of working with women who have experienced the trauma of domestic abuse or are in need of accommodation and housing related support. Domestic abuse and violence are major factors leading to homelessness, with over a third of women who become homeless having experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence.

The charity’s launched its commitment to the 16 days of activism with a free online event, Domestic Abuse – it’s everyone’s business. New trusee Fiona Bowman led a panel discussion with Paul Quinlan of EY, Amanda Stallwood from Akzonobel and Bev Coombs of Gateshead Council, whom shared how their businesses have been supporting employees who are victims and survivors of domestic abuse. The charity works closely with Gateshead Council on the delivery of its domestic abuse services, and Akzonobel is generously supporting this life-changing support for women in the North East.

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During the event, Fiona also shared her own story of escaping a violent relationship thanks to the support of her employers at the time. Fiona says:

““It took me a long time, nearly 18 years, to disclose to employers that I was a survivor of Domestic Abuse, but when I was ready I started to go out and speak to businesses about the importance of employers in the lives of victims and how, if they can put policies and structures in place to support their staff who may be experiencing abuse, their intervention may save a life.

“It would be good to find effective ways of embedding cultures in all businesses to ensure that survivors and perpetrators can universally receive signposting to the best help available. “Creating supportive structures with well-trained Managers and Mentors who can spot the signs early and have robust policies in place to guide these employees. Early intervention saves lives.”

Tackling domestic abuse

It was Lynne Livsey, Oasis Community Housing’s Head of Programme for Prevention, who first invited Fiona to speak to the charity’s Board. Lynne has been instrumental in the development of the Empower domestic abuse service at Oasis Community Housing in recent years and it’s her vision of an integrated approach to tackling domestic abuse that the charity is developing.

Ahead of the 16 days,  Lynne and Fiona have reviewed and update the charity’s internal domestic abuse policies. Lynne explains:

“‘We’re adopting a whole systems approach to domestic abuse, ensuring that we continually review and improve the support we offer. This includes: providing training and raising awareness of domestic abuse amongst our own staff and volunteers wherever they work, appointing workplace champions to offer peer support, and responding quickly and effectively when abuse is suspected or disclosed.”

“We believe that Employers have a crucial role to play in raising awareness and responding to domestic abuse and we are delighted to be playing our part in this year’s White Ribbon campaign and 16 days of action.

“We will be raising awareness of the warning signs that something is not right, training staff to recognise the different types of domestic abuse, providing support to managers to deal with disclosures and ensuring that individuals affected by domestic abuse are referred to specialist services for advice and support.”

How you can help

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