Our Communities and Neighbourhood Management Team are supporting The 16 Days of Action, which takes place globally from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
The campaign aims to raise awareness and ultimately end violence against women and girls. Fortis Living is extending its campaign to include men and those from the LGBT community who are also suffering from domestic abuse.
During the campaign we will show our support by organising and taking part in the following:
- Collecting ‘starter pack’ items for victims in refuges that have had to flee their homes due to domestic abuse. Some of these items include single bedding, bowls, single sheets, glasses, pillow cases, cups, children’s bedding, cutlery, hand towels, pots and pans, bath towels, slow cookers, baking trays, tin openers and laundry tablets; such items should be new or very good quality second items which can be donated both internally and externally with drop off points at our Progress House address.
- Fundraising in the form of a bake sale on Wednesday 27 November and a dress down day on Friday 29 November;
- We will also be exhibiting a White Ribbon tree at Worcester Cathedral’s hugely popular Christmas tree festival during the campaign; the festival opens on Saturday 7 December and runs until New Year’s Day next year.
Fortis Living currently supports 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.
Importantly, September 2019 saw the housing association complete the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Make a Stand campaign, aimed at tackling domestic abuse; to qualify it has now developed a policy to support customers as well as appointing a champion. It has also launched a series of training sessions to alert colleagues to potential signs of domestic abuse within the home.
Further plans include Fortis Living becoming 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, the organisation will aim to always deal with victims of domestic abuse in a fair, patient and consistent manner. It will also show its commitment to the issue as well as providing ongoing employee training.
Catherine Cole, Assistant Director Communities and Neighbourhoods (West) said : “As a social landlord we have a commitment and determination to help and support our customers. This includes recognising and dealing with reports of domestic abuse. Supporting campaigns like this is therefore critical to our work.”
Kerry Wentzel, Fortis Living’s Domestic Abuse Champion said : “Although domestic abuse budgets have been cut up and down the country, our message remains the same : our dedicated team is here to take your calls and offer support and help to all those suffering from domestic abuse.”
Fortis Living had 235 referrals for domestic abuse in 2018/2019. This year, the referrals are likely to increase with figures up until October 2019 at 151 reports of domestic abuse.
Statistics surrounding domestic abuse in the UK make for sobering reading :
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of domestic abuse within their lives;
- A staggering 2 women a week and 1 man a fortnight are killed by their partner or former partner;
- 1 in 4 LGBT relationships is abusive;
- The average victim will suffer more than 50 incidents before reporting;
- Worryingly, the number one barrier preventing women from leaving abusive situations is housing.
Kerry concluded : “Many victims find it extremely difficult to leave abusive relationships; there is so much support out there for them and their children and as we embark on the 2019 16 Days of Action campaign, we urge them not to suffer in silence. If you need help and support call 0333 200 7304.”
Fortis Living is 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.
Worcestershire was awarded White Ribbon status – the symbol of the campaign - as a county three years ago, a significant achievement.
Fortis Living customers can call 0333 200 7304 for support and advice regarding domestic abuse.