We delivered the packs earlier this month to coincide with the annual surge of reported incidents of domestic abuse during the Christmas and New Year period.
The initiative came about as part of our backing of an international campaign to end domestic violence.
Entitled The 16 Days of Action, the annual campaign – which is symbolised by a white ribbon - takes place globally from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Thirty essential packs were collected in total – made up by donations from our employees in the main - and included sponges, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sanitary products, shower gels, deodorant, soap and towels; additionally, we also donated a further £500 for mobile phones, perfume and other items for the packs. All of the packs were delivered to West Mercia Women’s Aid for its refuges throughout Worcestershire.
Kerry Wentzel, our Domestic Abuse Champion said : “The essential packs that we collected are really important to women fleeing their homes from domestic abuse; all too often, they leave with absolutely nothing. Supporting such campaigns is crucial to us as we work towards providing safe and secure homes for customers suffering from such abuse.”
The campaign is spearheaded locally by The Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence with an aim to raise awareness and ultimately end violence against women and girls.
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.
Kerry concluded : “As we know, men are also victims of domestic abuse too; it is important for us to recognise that domestic abuse of any kind towards anyone is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. Despite it being a serious problem, domestic abuse often remains a hidden crime; unfortunately the taboo and stigma surrounding the subject often prevents people who experience domestic abuse from reporting it and leaves the perpetrators unpunished.”
Importantly, 2019 will see us become 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 our commitment to the issue as well as providing ongoing employee training.
We had 110 referrals for domestic abuse in 2017/2018. Figures for 2018 will see referrals likely to nearly double with figures up until October at 113 reports of domestic abuse.
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.